Six Fools

written by Joyce Carol Thomas
illustrated by Annie Lee

Jump at the Sun, 2007
ISBN 978-0-7868-0664-5

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Shouting is a picture book celebration of the expression of faith. The lyrical text by Joyce Carol Thomas is reflected and magnified in the pulsating, energetic paintings by Annie Lee.

School Library Journal:

In an author’s note, Thomas explains that Shouting is “the exhilarating, foot-tapping, hand-clapping echo of joy and faith.” Both author and illustrator have captured the exuberance of this expression of freedom and faith. The lyrical text and animated folk-art paintings have an air of nostalgia, as an African-American girl watches her mother prepare for church (“she smelled like blue violets/And Dixie Peach and the/Fragrance of fresh-washed sheets/Brought in from the sun and air”) and take her place in a pew. When the Holy Ghost breaks out, Mama dances, “one hand behind her back/The other waving at something loose in the air/And every time she tried/To sit down/The organ moaned/And screamed/The song reached out and held her/Then let her go.” The text’s undulating rhythm is enticing; it moves through the pages, beautifully partnered with Lee’s textured paintings. . .This is a sumptuous offering.

Mary Hazelton

Publishers Weekly:

Thomas...pays homage to shouting, a form of holy dancing with African roots and commonly seen in African-American churches, with her evocative poetic picture book. A girl watches with awe and curiosity as her mother dons her fine dress, shoes and flowered hat, rendering her 'ready for Sunday' at their church. Once the service begins, Mama is touched by the ghost that draws her into a fevered shouting spell replete with exclamations of 'Yes,' 'Hallelujah' and 'Amen' from the congregation. Later in the text, the same narrator, now a grown woman, draws a link between her Mama's joyful church expression and the ages-old dancing of her African ancestors. The author's lyrical writing brims with images, [and] the free-flowing verse will whisk many away to a spiritual place.

Poetry for Children:

An author’s note provides background on Thomas’s thoughts in writing this book, tracing the joy of religious expression from African dance to Sunday worship to modern hip hop. Thomas’s words brought back vivid memories for me of witnessing the ebullient dancing of friends and acquaintances while living in Zimbabwe many years agolike a full body expression of a rousing musical chorus! [Read more at the April 8, 2007 entry here.]

Sylvia Vardell

Black Issues Book Review:

When the "good spirit" moves a mother and her daughter, as well as the other churchgoers, from their seats during a Sunday service, the shouting, clapping and dancing means that it's a time for spiritual celebration. Amusing drawings capture the spirit of the experience.

Suzanne Russ

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Copyright 2004-2007 Joyce Carol Thomas. All rights reserved.
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