Friday, July 15, 2022

How AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT Changed Me


Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (My poem and the link to PF are below)

TeachingAuthors is officially back from our ­čî×Summer Break­čî×, and I'm kicking off a round we're calling One Book I Learned From Over the Past Year.  

I've changed the prompt slightly for today's post to: One Book From the Past Year That Changed Me.

So many books, so many ways to respond to this prompt!  But lemme tell you, the book that BLEW. MY. MIND this year (thanks to my beloved book club) is the collaboration between author Jason Reynolds and illustrator Jason Griffin, AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT (Simon & Schuster)

Let's start with this two minute segment of a Washington Post video interview, in which Jason Reynolds tells us that his initial manuscript was three sentences long. 

So you're thinkin' picture book, right?  

Well. Kinda. It did win the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award in the PICTURE BOOK category. But...is that fair to the picture books?  

Kirkus calls it ILLUSTRATED POETRY.  For 12-18 year olds. (Unfortunately the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards don't have a poetry category ~ for shame!)

How to describe this book? Let's start with its physicality. 

It's 384 pages: the size of a fat YA. Each page is shinier and thicker than you'd expect. The cover alone is hefty. All I'm sayin' is don't put this in your kid's backpack--it's a frickin' brick of a book. 

What about the content?

It's poetry. It's story. It's despair. It's hope. It's family. It's wild and wonderful illustrations that sometimes make no sense and sometimes make the whole thing explode.

It's S-P-A-C-E to absorb a poem with double page spreads that sometimes are just black. 

It climbs to a crescendo page by page. 

It's metaphor, it's simile: 
  • "my sister talks to her homegirl through the screen of her phone like it's the screen of the front door," 
  • the father tries "to keep the cough from coming through/like trying to mute the blues trumpet in his throat," 
  • "worry is worn like a knit sweater/ in summer/ and can't nobody breathe/ in a knit sweater in summer/ a turtleneck wrapped around/my whole family/our necks caught/in a tunnel/of too much/going on"
Again:
This book 
BLEW.
MY.
MIND.

And, Honey, I ain't the only one. 

School Library Journal: ⭐starred review. 
Kirkus: ⭐starred review.
Booklist: ⭐starred review.
Publishers Weekly: ⭐starred review.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: ⭐starred review.
Horn Book: ⭐starred review.
Shelf Awareness: ⭐starred review.
Bookpage: ⭐starred review.

BOOKPAGE: "Dynamic and visceral, Ain’t Burned All the Bright artistically portrays the claustrophobia of the summer of 2020 from the perspective of a young boy."

KIRKUS: "Artful, cathartic, and most needed." 

SLJ: "For everyone who has felt the weight of grief and fear or the comfort of love and family in the last two years, this is a must read."

Jason Reynolds says, “It isn’t about the art illustrating the language, it’s more so about the language and the art being in conversation with one another.” 
Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
photo credit: Dayo Kosoko

Before my book club meets, I will sometimes put post-its on one or two pages I want to discuss.

And then there's this:

Want more? Take a deep dive into a ton of resources on S&S's site. That's the end of my review...

...which takes us back to the initial question. 

Answer: I am taking more chances when I writeF'rinstance:

HOW THIS BOOK CHANGED ME

by April Halprin Wayland

It said,

Malia, Min, Morgan, Manosh, Whoever:

You.

Be.

You.

 

Like a flame but not a flame because the flame’s

already that hot.

Like lightning but not lightning because lightning’s

already claimed that shine in the sky.

Like your step-mom’s burst of laughter but not her burst because

 

well, by now you know why.

 

Rip across a page!

Or settle down in softness.

Listen, sing, speak up, don’t speak up,

cut through the cloud or

ride it

 

because, Babe,

the you 

inside you

is dyin’ to shout. 

It's not too late.


Open 

the gate.

Let 

it 

out.

poem (c)2022 April Halprin Wayland, who controls all rights.

And finally, I'll send you off with the one minute book trailer of AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for being you.

And thank you, Elizabeth, of UNEXPECTED INTERSECTIONS for hosting today!

posted with affection by April Halprin Wayland with occasional snores from nearly-13-year-old Eli, who, after a full day playing with younger pups...is being Eli.