Monday, February 28, 2011

The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring

Continuing my mini-quest to document spectacular picture books with African American protagonists...

The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring is one of those books I stumbled upon one day, I think on the bargain shelf. It's still in print, and I was thrilled to discover that we actually carried it. It's the kind of book that is totally of its time (published in 1973) but that still shines decades later. Written by Lucille Clifton and illustrated by Brinton Turkle, it's the story of a boy named King Shabazz and his friend Tony Polito, who go through their neighborhood trying to find Spring, which grownups keep assuring them is "just around the corner."

"'Where is it at?' he would holler every time his Mama talked about Spring at home."

"One day after the teacher had been talking about birds that were blue and his Mama had started talking about crops coming up, King Shabazz decided he had just had enough. He put his jacket on and his shades and went by for Tony Polito."

Just like Ezra Jack Keats's books that I talked about last post, this story is set in an urban environment that is a major character in the story. On their walk to find Spring, King Shabazz and Tony Polito go past chain link fences and mailboxes and a bakery. "They passed Weissman's. They stopped for a minute by the side door at Weissman's and smelled the buns." Fire hydrants, street signs, other people walking the sidewalks. "They passed the Church of the Solid Rock with high windows all decorated and pretty." Here's the decision to cross a street they've never crossed before:
"Then they were at the streetlight. Tony stopped and made believe his sneaker was untied to see what King was going to do. King stopped and blew on his shades to clean them and to see what Tony was going to do. They stood there for two light turns and then King Shabazz grinned at Tony Polito, and he grinned back, and the two boys ran across the street."
They finally come to an empty lot with an abandoned car in its middle. (No Spring has yet sprung, thus far.) "Then they heard the noise. It was a little long sound, like smooth things rubbing against rough, and it was coming from the car. It happened again. King looked at Tony and grabbed his hand."

WHAT DO THEY FIND??? I'm totally not telling. You'll have to come by the Kids Info Desk to find out.

--Anna, kids

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I am liking this post and going to check-out what Tony Polito and King Shabazz find. I too have been looking for Spring. Lovely illustrations for what seems to be a lovely book. Thanks Anna!


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