Hudson, Wade, ed. 1993. PASS IT ON. Illus. By Floyd Cooper. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0-590-45770-5.
Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children is an exceptional book of poetry. It celebrates the lives of African-Americans through poems, authored by some of the best African-American poets. This book encourages the oral tradition of passing on a poem to the next generation, not allowing an ounce of the rich heritage to slip through the fingers of the present generation.
The collection includes poems from Langston Hughes, Lessie Jones Little, Nikki Giovanni and others. There is a wide range of topics covered in this book. On the lighter side of life, there is a poem about chocolate cake and another about a little girl's love of her daddy. On the heavier side the topics include the pain of discrimination and an informative narrative about Harriet Tubman.
The illustrations are really a treat. Floyd Coopers use of color and expression capture the poems essence, making it hard to take ones eye off of the page. For instance, one poem entitled I Can shows a young girl at a desk that appears to be the President of the U.S. or of a large corporation. She has a pencil in her hand with her chin titled up as if to say "I did it". This is just the type of poetry that we should be reading aloud to our young people.
This book is lovely. It will be a catalyst for thoughtful conversation in the classroom and a great addition to anyone's home library collection of poetry books.