Black Issues Book Review

Summer Sun Risin’

Summer Sun Risin’ – Book Review

Vanessa E. Jones

by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Don Tate Lee & Low Books, April 2002 $16.95, ISBN 1-584-30034-5

Summer Sun Risin’ is a lively picture book that captures the sights, sounds and activities of an African-American boy’s day on his parents’ farm. Author W. Nikola-Lisa manages to cover a lot of ground in a small amount of space. Readers follow the unnamed child through his day, from his early-morning, wake-up call by the family rooster to his parents lulling him to sleep at night. A hard day’s work for the boy includes milking the cows and feeding the pigs. Then father and son head to the river to catch fish for dinner. Nikola-Lisa details the action with simple, evocative prose: Fence on the hill,/corn in a row./Hay in the field/ready to mow./Pa takes the wheel,/I work the gears./Summer sun’s blazin’,/ burnin’ our ears.

Illustrator Don Tate pushes beyond Nikola-Lisa’s verbal guidelines by including visual grace notes that add dimension to the characters. Tate shows the father playing his guitar on the porch after putting his son to bed. The little boy’s love of farming is evidenced by the toy tractor tucked in a corner of his bedroom. You do wonder, however, why the child is working on the farm instead of attending school. The text never explains if these activities are taking place on a holiday or a weekend, or during summer vacation. In all, Summer Sun Risin’ is a fun way for children to learn about African-American farmers and farming, a field that blacks are just a miniscule part of.

–Vanessa E. Jones is a staff reporter at the Boston Globe.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Cox, Matthews & Associates

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group