It was a rainy Marin County day as many children gathered at the Corte Madera Library to hear local author, Jeanne Walker Harvey read her latest picture book. My Hands Sing the Blues is about Romare Bearden, a collage artist born in Charlotte, N.C., in 1911.
Bearden captured his childhood memories in a famous painting, Watching the Good Trains Go By. Using that painting as inspiration and the love of blues and jazz that influenced Bearden, Jeanne Walker Harvey has created a story of Bearden's childhood. She describes the patchwork of daily Southern life that he saw from the train's window and the story of his arrival in New York City.
Children were intently focused on the colorful illustrations, by Elizabeth Zunon, as Walker Harvey read:
“I snip a patch of color and add a cut-out face. Oh! I glue on jazzy blue for sky and add another face. People walk into my work as if it's always been their place. My hands sing the blues when I paint and cut and paste. I never know what I’ll create when I paint and cut and paste. I use paper, fabrics, photos, and nothing goes to waste.”
When Walker Harvey asked the group how many liked to write, many hands enthusiastically were raised high. One child said she liked writing about dinosaurs, another likes writing about friends being stranded on an island and one 9 year old girl proudly said, “We’re having a young authors fair at school and I’m in it!”
While Walker Harvey continued reading, an 8 year old boy raised his hand and said, “You wrote this, that’s cool!”
When I asked friends, Amelia, 8, and Phoebe, 10, what they enjoyed about the story, they both said, “I liked the whole thing!” Phoebe, 10, added, “I made a collage once in kindergarten. It’s a picture made out of a mix of things like magazines and scraps and fabrics…”
The children loved the story and the colorful collage illustrations done in Romare Bearden’s style. Jeanne Walker Harvey also wrote the book, Astro, The Stellar Sea Lion, which children were seen reading after her presentation of My Hands Sing the Blues.
It was another fun filled Tuesday afternoon story time at the Corte Madera Children’s Library room.
Until next time, remember, it’s all “for the love of kids…”
In joy, Marilyn