Exquisite [electronic resource] / Suzanne Slade

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: A picture-book biography of celebrated poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about "real life." She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.
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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2020 #4

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) grew up on the South Side of Chicago "with little money to spare," but her childhood home was rich in volumes of poetry, which her father read aloud and which she memorized. She began writing poems at the age of seven; at eleven, dreaming of an "ecstatically exquisite" future, she sent some of her best writing out and was published in a local newspaper and then a national magazine. Years of setbacks followed -- including the Great Depression, many rejections from publications, and struggles to pay the bills -- but only increased her devotion to her work. She wrote about the people she knew and observed in her Bronzeville neighborhood -- "the nonstop busyness, the hard-luck grittiness." She was a wife and mother before she got her first book of poems published, and poetry still didn't pay the bills. But Brooks dancing with her son in an electricity-less apartment upon being informed she had won the Pulitzer Prize is a quietly joyful conclusion to her search for her future. Cabrera's strong, carefully composed acrylic illustrations beautifully evoke both the joy and the hardship in Brooks's everyday life and in the life of the community that inspired her. Slade's attention to detail, vigorous prose, and judicious use of the poet's own words make this biography, and its subject, stand out. Appended with an author's note, a timeline, a selected bibliography, and source notes. Autumn Allen July/August 2020 p.157 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

PW Reviews 2020 April #1

In stirring free verse and resplendent acrylic paintings, these collaborators pay affecting tribute to Brooks, who, in 1950, became the first black person to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Laced with Brooks's spoken and written words, the lyrical narrative by Slade echoes the personal tenor of the subject's poetry, inspired by "the nonstop busyness, the hard-luck grittiness" of her neighborhood in Chicago's South Side. One of Brooks's poems, "Clouds," printed at the book's end, provides a leitmotif executed in tandem by Slade and Cabrera; in one spread that includes a quote from the poet, a young Brooks gazes at a cotton candy–hued sunset sky, dreaming about the future. Despite publishers' rejection letters and financial struggles during the Depression, she continued to believe in that hopeful future as "everywhere she looked, Gwendolyn saw more stories that needed to be told. So she kept writing." This fine biography should ignite readers' interest in exploring Brooks's exquisite writing. Ages 6–9. (Apr.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.