By Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
Expected publication October 11, 2011 by Random House Children's Books
An award-winning author teams with award-winning illustrators to illuminate the story of Africans taken during the slave trade. McKissack weaves a beautiful narrative and tells the story through one family - a blacksmith with a newborn son. The son is taken while out collecting wood one day and ends up part of the slave trade. The blacksmith, Dinga, calls on the elements to find out what has happened to his son. The elements work together to find the truth. It's a touching and uplifting story, except for one line at the end that bothered me a little. It was something along the lines of "well, my son's a slave but at least he's happy!" It just struck me as a bit out of place and callous, but perhaps that's how the people left behind in Africa would have actually felt. The illustrations here are gorgeous. I don't know how the Dillons do it - they create art in so many different styles and with so many different mediums and they are consistently beautiful. These look like stained glass and the colors they use are striking and evocative. The illustrations of the elements are so, so wonderful. This is a lush and beautiful picture book for older readers. Additionally, there is a nice author's note at the end that explains the genesis of the story. A beautiful way to let those descendants of slave that they were never forgotten in Africa.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced reader's copy.