Hush Songs
Already in its 3rd Printing!

From National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Thomas comes a glorious collection of ten African American lullabies. Here are the hush songs that have gentled babies and comforted children for generations, from "Brown Baby" and "Scarlet Ribbons" to "Raisins and Almonds". Also included are three original hush songs by Joyce Carol Thomas: "A Song for You", with music by internationally famous gospel composer Steven Roberts; "The Angels’ Lullaby", with music by Dr. Olly Wilson, gifted professor of music; and "Petal Child", with music and lyrics by Joyce Carol Thomas. The collection reflects ancient memories and tomorrow’s promises.

Beautifully illustrated by Brenda Joysmith, this one-of-a-kind collection includes easy-to-read music, historical headnotes, and an introduction by Joyce Carol Thomas. HUSH SONGS is a collection to share and treasure.


Designed for adults to sing to babies and preschoolers, this collection of 10 African American lullabies includes the words and full musical scores as well as notes on each song and a general introduction. Some are traditional songs (such as "All the Pretty Little Horses"); others are by contemporary writers and musicians, including three beautiful hush songs with original words by Thomas. Most of the full-page illustrations are soft and sentimental, with greeting-card borders and design, but the songs themselves are timeless. As Thomas notes, historically African-American women took the songs from Europe, embellished them with African meaning, and shaped them into something new. They touch us all. ---Hazel Rochman,

The San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley author Joyce Carol Thomas pulls together 10 African American lullabies, three with her original lyrics and all appearing with warm art, music notation and personal rather than scholarly source notes. Thomas' soothing collection offers an invitation: Feel free to improvise; it's traditional.

Publishers Weekly

Joyce Carol Thomas gathers 10 soothing melodies for bedtime into an elegant volume, Hush Songs: African American Lullabies, illus. by Brenda Joysmith. From standards such as "All the Pretty Little Horse" to three songs for which Thomas wrote lyrics and/or the music, each melody opens with a beautiful pastel portrait of one or more children. One especially accomplished illustration, for "Brown Baby" by Oscar Brown Jr. shows an African-American Madonna and child. A musical staff shows the melody line; a brief note introduces each song, often citing famous singers' associations with it (e.g., Harry Belafonte's rendition of Jack Segal and Evelyn Danzig's "Scarlet Ribbons" and Mahalia Jackson's recording of "The Lord's Prayer," as arranged by Albert Hay Mailotte).

Susan Heyboer O'Keefe

Hush Songs: African American Lullabies by Joyce Carol Thomas with illustrations by Brenda Joysmith. This collection of traditional and original lullabies, selected or written by National Book Award winner Thomas, is a delight for everyone. No matter what your background. Each lullaby has a bit of the song's history, its musical score, and a gorgeous illustration, mostly of tender moments between mothers and children. Even for those unable to read music (like myself), the lullabies work on the level of poetry and can be recited softly instead of sung. Ages 4 to 8 for comprehension, but even infants in the womb will love these songs.

Meridian Magazine

"I recently read a study on the DNA of races. The conclusion was that there was a greater difference between two European tribes, than what exists (or does not exist) between blacks and whites in America.

So the question is: "What do we teach our children?"

I, of course, began with books. To understand the world, our children must first understand all the cultures that share it. So we were delighted to get a book of African American Lullabies as a gift. The collection is Hush Songs, by Joyce Carol Thomas. Part of the introduction reads: "More than anything else, hush songs are musical heralds of peace, moving free as air across time, space, and cultural borders." I love the simple, spiritual songs: Lords Prayer, Somebody Bigger than You or I. The tender, hopeful songs like Brown Baby, All the Pretty Little Horses, and Angels' Lullaby."

Book Store

Text© 2000 Joyce Carol Thomas
Jacket art© Brenda Joysmith
Jacket design by Christine Kettner
Published by Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children
Copyright © Joyce Carol Thomas

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