It is over 100 degrees today and I thought of this book.
I love the song Summertime from Porgy and Bess and this illustrated version does a wonderful job of capturing the lazy heat of summer and the love of family. Brothers and sisters run in fields, sit on porches and are watched by loving parents.
I spent a few years of my childhood in Alabama and just seeing these pictures reminds me of the south. I remember ice tea, hiding in the shade, and relatives asking me to give them some "sugar" (kisses). Mike Wimmer's paintings are just lovely. I keep buying copies and giving them away - especially at baby showers.
This is a wonderfully evocative rendition of African-American country life. I've heard a few gripes by people of color that there are too many books about slavery, immigration or struggles in general. This book is a celebration of the good things - even when life is hard.
If you like books based on songs, there are a few more that I'd recommend - the strongest based on African-American spirituals and also wonderfully illustrated. Check out: This Little Light of Mine, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, and He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. I love reading It's a Wonderful World illustrated by Ashley Bryan. A new version of This Land is Your Land has great illustrations by Kathy Jakobsen, though I wish they were larger. Lots of lists around but these are my favorites right now.
Summertime from Porgy and Bess by George and Ira Gershwin, and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward ;
Illustrated by Mike Wimmer Aladdin (June 1, 2002)