Harlem (Caldecott Honor Book)

by Walter Dean Myers

Other authorsChristopher Myers (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1997



Local notes

811 Mye




Scholastic Press (1997), Edition: Library Binding, Hardcover, 192 pages


A poem celebrating the people, sights, and sounds of Harlem.


Original publication date


Physical description

192 p.; 12.28 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member cmiller05
The writing is through unrhyming poetry, and is used to describe what Harlem looks, sounds, and feels like. It was a beautiful portrayal, with vivid language. Ther writing style was incrediblly impressive.
LibraryThing member chrismyersgroup
Christopher Myers uses several different types of art techniques to uproot his audience and plant them in Harlem. Myers illustrates scenes of children running through a fire hydrant on a hot summer day, preachers preaching, and ladies singing gospels. One of his illustrations shows “perfumed
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sisters/Hip strutting past fried fish joints” (n.p.). Although his pictures most often follow the text, the facial expressions he has put on his characters tell the story the best. Most of the faces look withdrawn and show an expression of yearning - a yearning to get out.
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LibraryThing member KarriesKorner
The artwork in Walter Dean Myers book, Harlem: A Poem, is rich in color, feeling and expression. Each page is a beautiful depiction of life in Harlem showing everyday life, yet telling the story of the remarkable people who came from there during Harlem's heyday. From the streets came Joe Louis,
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Sugar Ray Leonard, Langston Huges, Count Basie, W.E.B. DeBois, just to name a few. Harlem is a place rich in Black history, where religion was important and music was a guiding force.

The strength of this book is definitely the pictures, which is why it was a Caldecott Honor book. The story, in verse form, was sometimes difficult to follow. I got the feeling that Myers was being deliberately obtuse in an effort to be poetic. I didn't get it. Because the verse is difficult to sort through, this book is more appropriate for an older audience; children who are younger than 7th grade will probably struggle to understand it without heavy interpretation from a teacher or parent.

In my opinion, the strength of this book are the illustrations, and not the verse.
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LibraryThing member DHARDY
This story is set in Harlem where the character is moving to because that’s where the feel a sense of belonging and everyone is like them. The author describes their ride from one neighborhood into Harlem where the scenes and the people where more familiar and you can almost see and feel the
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different environment by his description of the scene. He describes their pride, their joys and pains, and their struggles while living happily there in Harlem, where everyone relates.

I like the style and language the author uses to describe Harlem because he gives you a visual of Harlem. The illustrations used with their bold colors and precise distinctions bring the author’s words to life. We can all relate to belonging to a particular neighborhood, or group and even though we struggled at times, we were still content to belong to that organization.

This book can be used to discuss belonging to different groups, clubs, activities, or even Families. You could discuss the benefits and downfalls of belonging to certain groups and the feelings involved.
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LibraryThing member rheasly
Walter Dean Myers' poem describes Harlem as a place full of sound, color, smells, and feelings. Christopher Myers illustrates the poem with multi-media paintings/collages that feel three dimensional. This book is a celebration of a place that was meant to offer a better life to those who lived
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there. Some of the references to musicians, artists and political figures might have to be explained in order to fully appreciate the book. Ages 7-9
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LibraryThing member NataliaLucia
Personal Response: I really enjoyed combination of photographs and drawings in the illustrations.
Curricular Connection: In a Kindergarten Classroom, students can make their own photo collages after reading this book. Students can use pencils and paint to add to the photographs.
LibraryThing member Brianna82
Walter Dean Myers depicts "Harlem" in his poetry, describing a place rich with african american history and diversity, a place that promises life. The macabre illustrations by Christopher Myers add layers of meaning and texture, making the words almost something to reach out and touch. Walter Dean
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Myers references culture of the past and present, big and small, from the villages of Ghana to Langston Hughes. His words take you in:

"The uptown A
Rattles past 110th Street
Unreal to real
Relaxing the soul
Shango and Jesus
Asante and Mende
One people, a hundred different
Huddled masses
And crowded dreams".

This celebration of place and memories is unforgettable. Excellent for school curriculum and story time reading.

Themes: Multicultural, Harlem, NY, Black History, American Poetry.
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LibraryThing member Nataliewhite88
Poem; Caldecott medal; Coretta Scott King award; My reaction to this book was positive. I really enjoyed the illustrations, they told a story all their own. For example, the third to last page showed a young girl holding onto a light pole, it was simple but the expression in her eyes and the colors
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in the background relayed the message of sadness without the description of the words. The main point of this text was to show snapshots of the black experience in Harlem, NY during the mid to late 90's. The language forces the reader to think about what is being said to fully understand what it has described.
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LibraryThing member MataSoolua
Harlem is a book about the experience and great history of Black People. It's a book on the view of Harlem and all the history that you could see in Harlem. It's a great source and feel and history. It shows and tells you about the train ride to Harlem and as well as the feel of the
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neighborhoods, streets and even the church. It's a book of Harlem and Black People.

This book is very deep and really make me want to do some research on Black History. Harlem is a great book to show history of Black People and I would totally want to read it over and over and try to get all of what the book is trying to say and the meaning behind every word and sentence.

Classroom Extensions:
Of course I would use this book when talking about Black History. I would use this book for multicultural day and have children talk about their own individual cultures and diversity.
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LibraryThing member KendraGayle
Summary: This is a poem that describes the city of Harlem, New York. The poem expresses the detail of the urban life. It goes on to explain the music of the town which involves blues and jazz. Then it explains the way the people looked and what they did on their free time. It also describes the
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African Americans worship at a church.

Personal Reaction: I thought this book was culturally specific because it described everything to the very detail. I liked how the illustrations were because it was quite unique. The story was intensly deep.

Classroom Extensions: 1. The students could draw a map to show where Harlem is since in the beginning of the story, the author described where it was.
2. I could play some of the blues and jazzy music for the class in order to expose them to the sound.
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LibraryThing member cschne11
I really enjoyed the book “Harlem” for many reasons. One reason was because it was actually a poem in story form which was a refreshing change of pace from the normal format of a children’s story. This would be a great example to use in a poetry unit because it shows children that poems do
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not have to rhyme or be in a certain format to be powerful. “Hide-and-seek knights and ladies/Waiting to sing their own sweet songs/Living out their own slam-dunk dreams/Listening/For the coming of the blues”. The other thing I really enjoyed about this book were the pictures. They appeared to be a combination of collage art and painting and were extremely interesting and depicted the culture in the story. For instance, the man in the suit with a top hat and a cane, the musician playing the saxophone, and the basketball player seen through the chain link fence. The pictures really immerse the reader in the story and make them feel as if they are a part of the community. The main idea of this book is to highlight the deep and rich culture of Harlem from art and music to everyday life.
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LibraryThing member Nall0705
• Summary of content/review: This work follows a boy’s experience with the sights, smells, and sounds of his home, Harlem, New York, through a poetry format.
• Evaluation: This poem uses metaphors repeatedly, to accurately convey their feelings to the reader. The use of metaphors in this poem
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intensifies details and feelings.
• Target audience: 5th-8th grades
• Connection to classroom: This work can be used to teach metaphors and similes, how to use them when writing, and why they are used (to convey a message/feeling).

Genre: poetry, culture

RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
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LibraryThing member evandy1
I liked this boom because it was very different to any other children's book I've ever read. It was poetry, but it didn't rhyme so it was a great way to teach children that poems aren't always in the same format and they don't always have to rhyme. This story was about a man describing his hometown
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of Harlem. The descriptive language used was great. He used a lot of details to describe the look on peoples faces as well as the type of music they listened to and what people did in their free time. This allows children to see another culture as well. The illustrations in the book were also very unique and detailed. This was a grade book for middle readers and should definitely be incorporated into a lesson on poetry.
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LibraryThing member AlbertPascal
A beautiful poem of vibrant vitality illustrated in captivating colors and cut-paper collages. We get taste of a neighborhood brimming over with life and love and music and happiness and heartache, one with smells and sounds of family, friends and neighbors.

Here's a good book that can be used to
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show how alive a community can be. The illustrations are as delightful as the poem is moving. They are made with ink, gouache and collage. Each page is like a stand-alone work of art, so this book makes for a stunning collection of art that deserves to be shared in a class.
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LibraryThing member Khegge15
This book is about the experiences of African Americans living in Harlem. It is a good example of poetry because it is a narrative poem that tells a story throughout the entire book. It also evokes emotion from the reader.




½ (60 ratings; 3.9)
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