Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill. il by Bryan Collier.
Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 2010.
Caldecott Honor Book 2011

I so love this book. The strength and beauty of the whole process of pottery is drawn out step by step through the pages, including the the extraction of the clay from the soil. I can feel the power of the man's art-making process, the care in which he goes about his work. Or did, I should say, because this is the story of a historical potter, a slave from South Carolina, with works ranging from the 1830s up to the Civil War period and just after. Dave's name is known in art and history circles for his pots, especially for his rare 20 to 40 gallon pots. He is also known for his poetic additions included with his signature and date.

Besides the expertise of the workmanship, there is a more subtle awesome undertone. Dave is a rare individual in that American slaves were not usually allowed to become craftsman. Add to that the fact that they were not allowed to read and write normally, and Dave was not just signing his masterpieces, but expressing himself with wordcrafting. A strong testament to the human spirit.

I love to see picture books that are as strong in artwork as they are in words! The paintings in this book speak as eloquently as the language. The potter has presence, the hands convey strength and ability, and the artist seeks to remind the readers through background images that Dave was still a slave after all.

related-pottery, artists, poetry, slaves, African Americans, South Carolina, biography
RL=1st-2nd, all ages, can be used for study of pre-Civil War and art and poetry

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