The Entrance Place of Wonders
Any collection of poems from the Harlem Renaissance is likely to include certain familiar names such as Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. They are all here in The Entrance Place of Wonders (Abrams, $16.95; 9-12), but it's to Daphne Muse's credit that they are not represented by the same ol' poems. Sure, Hughes's "Dream Variations" is here, but so is the less-familiar "To You" and "Winter Sweetness." Ditto for the repertoires of Cullen and Johnson, from which Muse has chosen judiciously. Even so, the most refreshing selections are from nearly forgotten poets such as James Alpheus Butler Jr. and Alpha Angela Bratton. The latter's "Slumber Song," rich with historical resonance, is also a lovely lullaby. "See how the big moon dips and swings," she writes, "Shaking the stars from its silver wings." Charlotte Riley-Webb's splashy illustrations are wonderfully exuberant, as is "Rhapsody," by William Stanley Braithwaite, the poem from which Muse takes her title. Braithwaite's thoughtful gratitude is a fitting coda for the collection itself: "I am glad for my heart whose gates apart/Are the entrance-place of wonders, Where dreams come in from the rush and din/Like sheep from rains and thunders."Entrance Place of Wonders, indeed.
Brightly colored and fluid, Charlotte Riley-Webb's energetic illustrations celebrate these important, life-affirming poems. Also included are biographies of the featured poets, as well as an informative introduction to the Harlem Renaissance by Daphne Muse. Through The Entrance Place of Wonders, the vibrant spirit of one of the most exciting and significant times in American history lives on. Illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb, Abrams Books for Young Readers 32 pages, full-color, 32 pages, 8 1/2 x 10 1/2" hardcover with jacket February 2006