Ellington Was Not a Street

Ellington Was Not a Street

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In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. These men of vision, brought to life in the majestic paintings of artist Kadir Nelson, lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater.
Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that "changed the world." Their lives and their works inspire us to this day, and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780439775731
Publisher: Weston Woods Studios, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2005

About the Author

Ntozake Shange (1948–2018) was a poet, novelist, playwright, and performer. She wrote the Broadway-produced and Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, as well as numerous works of fiction, including Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo; Betsey Brown; and Liliane.

Kadir Nelson is an award-winning American artist whose works have been exhibited in major national and international publications, institutions, art galleries, and museums. Nelson is the illustrator of many beloved, award-winning, and bestselling picture books including, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, winner of the Coretta Scott King and Robert F. Sibert Award; Thunder Rose, written by Jerdine Nolen, which received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award; Ellington Was Not a Street, written by Ntozake Shange, which received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award; Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, written by Jerdine Nolen, which won the 2005 Society of Illustrators Gold Medal; and Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli called “stunning” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review. He is also the illustrator of Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan’s Salt in His Shoes and Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee’s Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please. Kadir Nelson lives in Los Angeles.

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Ellington Was Not a Street 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Sassy_Seshat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cute illustrated poem that introduced children to African American figures from the 50s and 60s.
KatherineLo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little girl grows up in a house that constantly had influential black leaders coming in and out. To her they were ordinary people and later on realized what they were doing, changing the world. Nelson does an impeccable job of showing great detail of the house and the people who were often seen there. Each person is drawn true to themselves. The expression on their faces shows when they were talking business or just having fun letting steam off. The pictures make me feel as if I could be the one sitting in that house as a little child witnessing all that happenedIn the classroom: introduction to black history, storytelling, how to tell a story of your life
aconant05 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a poem about a young African American girl who grew up having visitors that changed society for their race.
princessofthesea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Subject Area: Language Arts/Social StudiesGenre: PoetryThis is an example of poetry because the author's words are arranged in a beautiful manner. Each word has a place in the overall text. The author's words tell as story (narrative poetry) that invoke feelings and emotions in the reader. Because of these criteria, this book is a good example of poetry.(Stars for style)Age: Intermediate
nboria05 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Most of this story was told through pictures and was really hard for me to follow. It was written with no punctuation or capitals and was from a very young girl's perspective. This poetry was hard for me even to understand the main point of the story, but the pictures communicated an important message of change for African-American culture. I really enjoyed the illustrations!
kim.maughan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Children's Literature- Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzThe text of Shange's emotion-packed free verse is spread, a line or two, across the tall double pages. It is rich with the memories of a Harlem childhood, warm with family love, and filled with encounters with men of vision "who changed the world," such as Paul Robeson, W.E.B.Dubois, "Dizzy" Gillespie, and Duke Ellington. All those mentioned appear at the end with small portraits and descriptions of who they were. Naturalistic oil paintings, almost like a family album of color photographs, record the details of rooms and the people in them; a posed group shot of 30 friendly people adds specific vitality to the text's more general memories. The final full-length portrait of Ellington is stunning in its elegant directness, illuminating the man's gentle spirituality. 2004 (orig. 1983), Simon & Schuister Books for Young Readers, Ages 8 up.
rpultusk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This picture-book-in-verse is a poem ("Mood Indigo") about the important visitors that frequented the speaker's home when she was a young girl. Based on the author's actual experiences, the poem makes reference to a number of historically significant African Americans, from Paul Robeson to Dizzy Gillespie to W.E.B. DuBois. The pictures are pencil and watercolor, adding to the nostalgic tone of the verse. The book also includes brief biographical sketches of the visitors at the end.The setting is the home of the young girl, the speaker in the poems, circa 1960-1970. Cultural markers include references to prominent African American leaders and their work. The sparse verse allows the illustrations to dominate the page, but the poignancy of the language allows the reader to enter into the home and mind of the young girl as she attempts to make sense of these important visitors.Highly recommended for elementary, middle, and high school libraries.
AndreaGough on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
5Q4P- Illustration of a poem by Ntozake Shange, about the African-American luminaries that gathered at her home when she was a child. Roughly one line per two page spread. Brief biographies of the men mentioned (Paul Robeson, Duke Ellington, Kwame Nkrumah) are included at the end, as is the text of the poem. The real highlight here are the illustrations by Kadir Nelson, which make the words live.- Recommended for ages 4-10, and up.- Not explained by radical change.
limeminearia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ntozake Shange¿s poem Mood Indigo, which forms the text of this book, is a remembrance of a childhood surrounded by ¿men who changed the world.¿ Friends of her wealthy Saint Louis family included actor Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. Shange¿s tribute to these men is therefore unusually intimate. She writes: I remember/ I was there/I listened in the company of men/politics as necessary as collards/music even in our dreams. The elegiac tone underscores that she is not merely paying tribute to these men as icons, but writing an ode to black masculinity and agency, and to an era when their dignity transformed our culture. Short biographical notes on each of the men and a page with the full text of the poem conclude the book. Although some reviewers have faulted Shange for not including an author¿s note or for focusing exclusively on the men of the era, I would argue that the book stands beautifully as it is.Ellington Was Not a Street won the 2005 Coretta Scott King Award for illustration. Two other Kadir Nelson books have won the award since, and it¿s easy to see why. His oil paintings are elegantly composed, gorgeously controlled in their use of color and specific in the details of their portraiture. Yet his art is also enormously appealing to children, possibly because it is subtly informed by comics and imbued with a gentle but pervasive humor. The cute little girl and her brother provide a visual anchor within each two-page spread. When Shange writes ¿Our house was filled with all kinda folks/our windows were not cement or steel/our doors opened like daddy¿s arms/held us safe and loved¿ Nelson does everything right to illustrate her words. The house, with its beautifully patterned furnishings, becomes more than a setting, but a character, imbued with grace and warmth. Over his career Nelson has used his talents to capture the power of Black heroes and the warmth of loving Black families. He has said ¿My focus is to create images of people who demonstrate a sense of hope and nobility. I want to show the strength and integrity of the human being and the human spirit.¿ His art provides a needed entry point for young readers to insert themselves into Shange¿s powerful words.Why should librarians know this book? In addition to being lovely, it¿s also useful for assignments and a natural recommendation to give teachers. Although it is in picture book format it could easily be used in high school or even college classes. For librarians not familiar with all of the figures referenced here it provides a brief introduction to them. The biographical details in the back could even help with collection development, serving as a reminder to check our collections to make sure we have adequate information on these great men, as well as good representations of Shange and Nelson¿s work in our libraries. You may note that although this is Black History Month that is not the first use of this book that comes to mind. I think that the book itself may be partly behind my questioning of that impulse. Shange¿s recollection of a time before Ellington was a street (or there was a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard running through every ghetto) seems to me to be a subtle criticism of how America handles the stories and names of Black leaders. Black History Month can be seen as a sort of ghetto itself, an admission that we are not learning or teaching Black History year round. In one short poem she puts forward a powerful and complex idea that I think educators and librarians need to consider: that we need to know more about these men and the ideas and conversations they cared about if we are to present a meaningful narrative of U.S. history and the place of social movements within it. Otherwise we are complicit in collecting names and places like emblems while congratulating ourselves on how far we¿ve come. As Raina Kelley wrote in a recent op-ed for Newsweek, ¿The End of Black History Month? Why I¿m Not Ready to Ditch it
Mluke04 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an example of poetry because it uses the poem "Mood Indigo" to tell the story. Each line of the poem has a page and illustration in the book.The illustrations are very well done. Each one provides a visual for a small part of the poem. There is a page in the back of the book that describes each of the men that the poem refers to. Each biography has the illustrated picture of the man.Media: Oil paint
Ed490 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ellington Was Not a Street is Ntozake Shange¿s recollection of her childhood. In it, she remembers all of the influential African American men who gathered at her house to meet with her father. Combined with Kadir Nelson¿s beautiful paintings, this book is a touching tribute to all who worked to ensure freedom and equality for African Americans. The text is difficult to understand, until one realizes that it is a poem written by Ntozake Shange set to imagery. The sophisticated language and biographical references make it much more appropriate for middle to high school classrooms, but the beautiful paintings add a great touch of realism and humanity to this historical poem.
kaitlinc23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a good example of poetry. Each page has one line from the poem about the influential African American men and how it changed the life and influenced the life of a young girl. At the end of the book there are mini biographies on the men mentioned in the book. This would be a good book to discuss poetry, and the meaning behind each line as well as one to discuss during Black History month in February. Genre: Poetry Level: Primary
scadd07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stars for plot I did not really understand this book at all until I read the part after the story was finished. In the end the story was lined up like a poem, and it made me think that it could be a poem, although it seemed like realistic fiction, up until that point. I'm not sure where this book falls to be honest.
rwheeler08 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Genre: PoetryCritique of Genre: This is an excellent example of poetry because it incorporates rhythm with imagery. It is a lyrical poem, meaning that the poet provides his personal expression in response to something (i.e., Ellington Street). He says, ¿it hasnt always been this way / ellington was not a street¿¿ Age: IntermediateCritique of Style: (See star rating above)
capri77 More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent.