Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dave the Potter: Arist, Slave, Poet......

Dave, the Potter, is an artist, poet and slave who inscribes his pottery with unique phrases such as
"another trick is worst than this +
Dearest miss: spare me a Kiss+"
Dave leaves observations on life, witty euphemisms, and lines of poetry on the clay pots he sculpts reminiscent of Japanese haiku. Unfortunately, we often have the notion that slaves during the American Civil War couldn't read, much less write, and Dave challenges that notion certainly with his talented use of the English tongue and script.
The watercolor images in the book depict Dave engaged in the step-by-step process of creating pottery, from preparing the clay for the wheel, to applying the ash glaze. Finally, Dave hand writes a poetic verse on the outside of the jar, adding the date and signature. The watercolor images represent "the spirit of Dave" says illustrator Bryan Collier, as there are no actual images of Dave the Potter in existence. "In many ways Dave's artistry may have served as his own glimpse of freedom, and a way of carving out a life under the brutal and dehumanizing conditions of slavery. Dave's noble jars and verses blaze through the ages and speak profoundly of dignity to our generation and beyond," adds Collier. Couldn't have said it better myself. Complete with a bibliography and a website this book reminds me why I love children's picture books so much. Without saying a lot, they say it all.

Perfect for ages 5-9 and the prose style in which its written may appeal to "reluctant readers" as well.

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