Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? This artful picture book biography brings to life a lesser known figure from the Harlem Renaissance. James VanDerZee was born in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1886, and was smitten by photography as a child. He became the second person in town to own a camera. As a teen he moved to Harlem, and eventually opened his own portrait studio. He always sought to make his subjects look their best and portrayed the people of Harlem with sensitivity and affection. The lovely painterly illustrations in this book capture this affection and, together with the simple text, tell the story of a dignified and important artistic figure of the time. Back matter includes an extensive afterword, with more personal information about VanDerZee and reproductions of ten of his photographs, along with details on his technique. Also includes a bibliography and sources for further reading. I loved reading about this Massachusetts man who, through photography, captured the lives of thousands of black people of the Harlem Renaissance.
To whom would you recommend this book? Offer this to teachers and students studying 20th century artists and photographers, especially in curricula around African-Americans.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: July 31, 2017