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Kid Konnection: Heart and Soul

October 8, 2011

Heart and Soul, by Kadir Nelson, tells the story of America’s past through the eyes of an aging African American woman.  It’s written in a conversational tone, so the reader feels like they’re sitting at her knee listening to her recount history.   She starts her story by saying

Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past.  Sometimes it’s just too hard to talk about – nothing we like to share with you young folk.  No parent wants to tell a child that he was once a slave and made to do another man’s bidding.  Or that she had to swallow her pride and take what she was given, even though she knew it wasn’t fair.  Our story is chock-full of things like this.  Things that might make you cringe, or feel angry.  But there are parts that will make you proud, or even laugh a little.  You gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.  You have to know where you come from so you can move forward.

Since this book is written for ages 9 to 12, it’s a simplified version of history, but that doesn’t keep it from having a big impact.  It covers America’s history from the days of slavery to the fight for civil rights, emphasizing the accomplishments of African Americans, and introducing young readers to African American leaders in the military and civil rights as well as sports and inventions.

Heart and Soul is a joy to read.  The pages are thick and glossy and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.  They are so stunning, you’ll almost want to cut them out and frame them.

I heard Kadir Nelson speak at SIBA and he is extremely talented and passionate.  (He had my heart when he spoke about his grandmother.)  He told us he decided to write Heart and Soul because he noticed the absence of African Americans in the paintings in the U. S. Capitol.   Check out this video to see just how beautiful this book is:


For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2011 7:37 am

    I can’t wait to read this one after your glowing recommendation!

  2. October 8, 2011 8:08 am

    Oh my goodness! What a beautiful book! I love how he used pictures and posed for many of the pictures. The artwork is stunning!

  3. October 8, 2011 8:08 am

    OMG this looks moving, beautiful, and informative. A book to keep on your shelves forever.

  4. October 8, 2011 8:46 am

    I’m drooling over this (won’t tell you which aspect – ha ha). It’s totally going on my won’t-you-buy-this-for-Christmas-for-me list!

  5. October 8, 2011 9:35 am

    Plus the man is drop-dead gorgeous. Even as I watch his video I find my mouth hanging open. The highlight of the book are his illustrations. They are amazing.

  6. October 8, 2011 10:12 am

    Kadir was really wonderful to listen to, and I love this book a lot too. Some of the artwork in this book is amazing, and I loved that he shared some of his early sketches with us. This was a great post today on a great book!

  7. October 8, 2011 11:24 am

    I can’t wait to read this! I read We Are the Ship by the same author and it was just amazing! Great review.

  8. October 8, 2011 11:58 am

    Oh, I would luv to read Heart And Soul. Wow~

  9. October 8, 2011 12:01 pm

    The video is fabulous. Incredible.

  10. October 8, 2011 9:03 pm

    Noting this one down – seems like a great step to reading for my little one. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  11. October 8, 2011 9:33 pm

    That passage you shared is really wonderful. Looks like this is one of those I will enjoy!

  12. October 9, 2011 2:41 pm

    Wow! Kadir Nelson is an incrediby talented man! The illustrations for this book are just gorgeous, and you can tell he has truly put his own heart and soul into his work. Definitely want to pick up a copy of this one!

  13. October 9, 2011 3:05 pm

    Good that someone is reading about this too 🙂

  14. October 9, 2011 10:05 pm

    Love the illustrations…really draws you into the story.

  15. October 13, 2011 9:38 am

    Wow, this sounds really good. I think the conversational style is good for children. Are you counting this book toward the Civil War Challenge?

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