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Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

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A picture book biography about Gwendolyn Brooks, the influential poet and the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize.


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A picture book biography about Gwendolyn Brooks, the influential poet and the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize.

30 review for Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

  1. 4 out of 5

    ij

    A picture book biography on poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Gwendolyn grow up in Chicago and was exposed to poetry, early. Books of poetry were in the families bookcases and her father often read poetry to the family at night. Gwendolyn started to write poems herself and soon submitted some into contests. She was surprised when she won. She was shy and not popular in school but she continued to write. Later as an adult and struggling writer she published two books. The poet was the first African-American t A picture book biography on poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Gwendolyn grow up in Chicago and was exposed to poetry, early. Books of poetry were in the families bookcases and her father often read poetry to the family at night. Gwendolyn started to write poems herself and soon submitted some into contests. She was surprised when she won. She was shy and not popular in school but she continued to write. Later as an adult and struggling writer she published two books. The poet was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. When Gwendolyn first heard of this honor her electricity had been turn off and she almost did not answer the phone expecting a bill collector. The book was written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Great book for ages 6-9. Black History Month Read

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ms. B

    Perseveramce pays off in this picture book biography about Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Bonus - take a peek at the front and back covers under the book jacket for some different illustrations of Gwendolyn. They are a lot of fun!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Exquisite is the perfect name for this book. Exquisite the life. Exquisite the art. Exquisite the writing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Here is another book about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks. You may have read or remember the earlier A Song for Gwendolyn by Alice Faye Duncan and Zia Gordon. There is also a great article about Brooks from BrainPickings. This morning, this book was given a Coretta Scott King Illustrator honor book award! This book is full of poetry, too, some in Suzanne Slade's words that tells the story, some of Gwenolyn's own. It begins at her birth, all the way through early struggles, her marriage, still chal Here is another book about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks. You may have read or remember the earlier A Song for Gwendolyn by Alice Faye Duncan and Zia Gordon. There is also a great article about Brooks from BrainPickings. This morning, this book was given a Coretta Scott King Illustrator honor book award! This book is full of poetry, too, some in Suzanne Slade's words that tells the story, some of Gwenolyn's own. It begins at her birth, all the way through early struggles, her marriage, still challenged by money and keeping the electric bill paid, all the way to her surprising win of the Pulitzer prize and her continuing writing, writing. She showed that love of words all her life, a first poem published at age seven! The illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera seem poetic, too, following the text with varied pages, from landscapes of her Southside Chicago neighborhood to skyscapes as Geraldine's "words drifted into the world". There is an author's note, a timeline, and additional sources and acknowledgments. One last thing, Gwendolyn, from youth to adult, is everywhere on the pages, which I loved.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    Of all the poets that I read in college literature classes, Gwendolyn Brooks was my favorite, because I loved her slice-of-life focus and intuitive rhythms. This book does justice to her style and legacy, and the illustrations are colorful, detailed, and gorgeous. It also has a powerful message about enduring through hard times and having the determination to succeed regardless of life's obstacles. I really enjoyed this picture book biography, and would recommend it to fans of Brooks and to peop Of all the poets that I read in college literature classes, Gwendolyn Brooks was my favorite, because I loved her slice-of-life focus and intuitive rhythms. This book does justice to her style and legacy, and the illustrations are colorful, detailed, and gorgeous. It also has a powerful message about enduring through hard times and having the determination to succeed regardless of life's obstacles. I really enjoyed this picture book biography, and would recommend it to fans of Brooks and to people who want an introduction to her life and work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    With Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020), Suzanne Slade delivers another outstanding picture book biography of a notable woman of color. Slade focuses on how words and poetry permeated the life of young Gwendolyn. The text evokes the voice of Ms. Brooks with its accessible elegance and use of rhyme and other sound devices. (As I said in my earlier review of A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan, I was privileged to know Ms. Brooks With Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020), Suzanne Slade delivers another outstanding picture book biography of a notable woman of color. Slade focuses on how words and poetry permeated the life of young Gwendolyn. The text evokes the voice of Ms. Brooks with its accessible elegance and use of rhyme and other sound devices. (As I said in my earlier review of A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan, I was privileged to know Ms. Brooks a little bit in her later years, and I cannot help but refer to her as Ms. Brooks.) Cozbi A. Cabrera’s illustrations are vibrant with bright pastels showing realistic family life scenes as well as imaginative depictions of the young poet swept up in pages, books, and images. I also appreciate how Cabrera’s portrayals of Ms. Brooks accurately convey her facial expressions as I remember them. The back matter includes a useful timeline and bibliography, although I wish it included Children Coming Home (The David Company, 1991), Ms. Brooks’s wonderful and frequently overlooked collection for children; an informative author’s note; and heartfelt acknowledgments from the author and illustrator. Exquisite may be the just-right book to affirm young socially-awkward dreamers who are fascinated by playing with the music of words.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Biography of Gwendolyn Brooks for elementary level readers. Slade takes readers from Gwendolyn's childhood through winning the Pulitzer Prize. The text is easy to follow and captures the challenges and joys in her life. Illustrations are beautiful to look at and help readers see into her life and mind as she follows her passion for writing. Informative text at the end of the book. Biography of Gwendolyn Brooks for elementary level readers. Slade takes readers from Gwendolyn's childhood through winning the Pulitzer Prize. The text is easy to follow and captures the challenges and joys in her life. Illustrations are beautiful to look at and help readers see into her life and mind as she follows her passion for writing. Informative text at the end of the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    "A picture book biography about Gwendolyn Brooks, the influential poet and the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize." "A picture book biography about Gwendolyn Brooks, the influential poet and the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade This is a fascinating bio of Brooks, from childhood to adult, including her winning a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry book. The bio includes quotes from Gwendolyn and others, and includes only one of her poems, "Clouds" (with permission). The back matter includes an author's note, a timeline, sources for the quotes, and a bibliography. The beautiful acrylic illustrations were rendered by Cozbi A. Cabrera, who also creates original Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade This is a fascinating bio of Brooks, from childhood to adult, including her winning a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry book. The bio includes quotes from Gwendolyn and others, and includes only one of her poems, "Clouds" (with permission). The back matter includes an author's note, a timeline, sources for the quotes, and a bibliography. The beautiful acrylic illustrations were rendered by Cozbi A. Cabrera, who also creates original cloth dolls and clothing; and has been featured on Oprah.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The first in my stack of 2021 ALA award books. This one received both a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor & a Sibert Honor. The colors in this book are just stunning! Even as an adult, I love picture book biographies as beautiful introductions to important figures from history, literature, etc and they just make me want to learn/read more. I immediately picked up her Children’s poetry book Bronzeville Boys and Girls I have on my shelf & will be reading that next. The first in my stack of 2021 ALA award books. This one received both a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor & a Sibert Honor. The colors in this book are just stunning! Even as an adult, I love picture book biographies as beautiful introductions to important figures from history, literature, etc and they just make me want to learn/read more. I immediately picked up her Children’s poetry book Bronzeville Boys and Girls I have on my shelf & will be reading that next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shaye Miller

    Enjoyed this book as a virtual read aloud with author Suzanne Slade and illustrator, Cozbi A. Cabrera splitting the reading up. I'm excited we'll be getting this book in our library very soon! Enjoyed this book as a virtual read aloud with author Suzanne Slade and illustrator, Cozbi A. Cabrera splitting the reading up. I'm excited we'll be getting this book in our library very soon!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    An interesting peek into the life of one of the most important poets in the US. One thing that I questioned was how the book seemed to emphasize Gwendolyn's family's lack of resources while the illustrations told a different story. The opening line is "Gwendolyn grew up in the big city of Chicago with little money to spare," but the acrylic painting shows her in an apartment with fashionable wallpaper, drapes, arm chair, wood floors, and huge book case. Later, she's playing an upright piano. Ok. An interesting peek into the life of one of the most important poets in the US. One thing that I questioned was how the book seemed to emphasize Gwendolyn's family's lack of resources while the illustrations told a different story. The opening line is "Gwendolyn grew up in the big city of Chicago with little money to spare," but the acrylic painting shows her in an apartment with fashionable wallpaper, drapes, arm chair, wood floors, and huge book case. Later, she's playing an upright piano. Ok. According to the illustrations the poet's family is middle class, maybe even Black upper middle / owning class. They recite poetry together and she is self-possessed enough to submit poems to contests as a child, and then she goes to college (as a woman)! I know that a person raised working class or poor can engage in these pursuits, sure. However, I worry this book is trying for a rags-to-riches / underdog dynamic that misunderstands Black wealth (in the way that many non-Black people misunderstand it, assuming that Black and white wealth should look the same), even while it attempts to highlight Black intellectual wealth. The painterly illustrations are little stiff, but I particularly enjoyed the spread where Gwendolyn sits on the floor in her lovely dresses to write poetry. Finally, you can hear this story read aloud by a Hamilton cast member online: https://bit.ly/3myC9ZJ

  13. 5 out of 5

    SaraCat

    My main disappointment with this book is that it say "The Poetry... of Gwendolyn Brooks," yet there is only one of her poems printed in the book. So, I think it would be more appropriately titled simply: "Exquisite: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks." I liked the flow of the verse in telling a simple biography of Brooks. It felt an appropriate level of detailed for young readers (or those who still enjoy having an adult/older person read to them). The illustrations really help bring Brooks' story to l My main disappointment with this book is that it say "The Poetry... of Gwendolyn Brooks," yet there is only one of her poems printed in the book. So, I think it would be more appropriately titled simply: "Exquisite: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks." I liked the flow of the verse in telling a simple biography of Brooks. It felt an appropriate level of detailed for young readers (or those who still enjoy having an adult/older person read to them). The illustrations really help bring Brooks' story to life. As an adult reading this book, I am now fascinated to learn more about her and especially I want to try some of her poetry. I'm not someone who has found a lot of connection with poetry in the past, but the one poem included in this book was so beautiful I think maybe it's just I hadn't yet come across a poet whose poems I could feel something from. The two collections mentioned in this book are: A Street in Bronzeville and Annie Allen.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Cozbi A. Cabrera introduce readers to the Exquisite poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who “wrote about understanding your identity--who you are on the inside.” She “overshadowed and transcended lack, limitation, oppression, and every established boundary line with the power of her discipline and the persistence of her love.” Growing up in Depression Era America, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet’s message is relevant to today’s global pandemic. Her legacy inspires readers Author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Cozbi A. Cabrera introduce readers to the Exquisite poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who “wrote about understanding your identity--who you are on the inside.” She “overshadowed and transcended lack, limitation, oppression, and every established boundary line with the power of her discipline and the persistence of her love.” Growing up in Depression Era America, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet’s message is relevant to today’s global pandemic. Her legacy inspires readers to “dream about the future, which was going to be ecstatically exquisite, like those clouds.” In addition to her acrylic paint illustrations, I am obsessed with Cabrera’s handmade cloth dolls at cozbi.com.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Like Brooks’ poetry, this book finds the beauty in everyday moments. Moreover, it shows that Black lives can be ordinary and filled with love. People on the South Side of Chicago and elsewhere struggle, but there’s also joy and poetry in their lives. “Exquisite” celebrates how art and literature enrich our lives. The richly detailed illustrations bring the poet, her family, and her friends to life. The 2021 Coretta Scott King Honor for illustration is well deserved.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Loos

    Exquisite is a fantastic biography that was written by Cabrera Slade. This book introduces a young poet named Gwendolyn Brooks. The setting was in Chicago around the Great Depression. This is an authentic biography, so everything in the book actually happened. Slade did great research on Brooks, as there was lots of back matter! She cited sources and even had a full timeline of Gwendolyn’s life. This is a fantastic book. It is very inspirational and would have some teachable themes. I would defi Exquisite is a fantastic biography that was written by Cabrera Slade. This book introduces a young poet named Gwendolyn Brooks. The setting was in Chicago around the Great Depression. This is an authentic biography, so everything in the book actually happened. Slade did great research on Brooks, as there was lots of back matter! She cited sources and even had a full timeline of Gwendolyn’s life. This is a fantastic book. It is very inspirational and would have some teachable themes. I would definitely recommend this book!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A lovely story about the life of famous poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. I highly recommend looking up some of her children’s poems after reading about her. I loved the illustrations in this book—they were colorful and just gorgeous.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    This is a winning picture book biography of an amazing African American poet.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    Gorgeously illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Beautiful biography about a true writer of the world around her, Gwendolyn Brooks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Lovely picture book biography.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    Beautifully illustrated picture book biography that shares the poetry and life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Be sure to take the book jacket off and see the gorgeous case covering.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Doyle

    Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black female to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, always had a way with words. From her early childhood, she was surrounded by the beauty of poems and began writing her own at age 7. By 11, her poems were being published in local newspapers, and her work continued throughout her life. This is a beautiful introduction to a powerful voice that spoke of everyday life in Chicago.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alana "Loni"

    I love that Gwendolyn Brooks life and poetry are rich enough for multiple awesome picture books to be written about her! Another winner.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    From a very young age, Gwendolyn Brooks loved poetry. At 7 her mother compared her to Paul Laurence Dunbar! She wrote poems about everything. At 11 she was published in the newspaper, but then the Great Depression slowed her momentum. She did well in school, attended college and married, writing poetry was never enough to pay the bills, but she kept writing and submitting her poems. Eventually she published several books and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. This is a nice picture book biograph From a very young age, Gwendolyn Brooks loved poetry. At 7 her mother compared her to Paul Laurence Dunbar! She wrote poems about everything. At 11 she was published in the newspaper, but then the Great Depression slowed her momentum. She did well in school, attended college and married, writing poetry was never enough to pay the bills, but she kept writing and submitting her poems. Eventually she published several books and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. This is a nice picture book biography. Slade's text is also poetic, a great nod to Brooks. I loved that she quotes the poet's own work as well. Cabrera's illustrations are wonderful. Colorful and realistic, there's plenty to get lost in looking at the pictures. Oh, to see those skies. Magnificent. Cross posted to: https://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com/20...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Kahn

    Lovely writing and gorgeous illustrations in this first-purchase picture book biography of an important poet.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Racheal

    What an excellently crafted picture book biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black woman to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize (among many other accolades). A beautiful story of passion and dedication in the face of adversity that really got me in the feels!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    “Writing became like eating and breathing to Gwendolyn — it was something she just has to do.” Gwendolyn Brooks heard the words of poets read to her every night by her father. By the time she was seven, she began writing her own poetry. At the age of eleven, she sent her poems to a newspaper and became a published poet. “Gwendolyn’s future seemed as bright as morning’s first clouds.” Her poetry helped her to feel invincible, rather than invisible. And her poetry helped others to see the invisible “Writing became like eating and breathing to Gwendolyn — it was something she just has to do.” Gwendolyn Brooks heard the words of poets read to her every night by her father. By the time she was seven, she began writing her own poetry. At the age of eleven, she sent her poems to a newspaper and became a published poet. “Gwendolyn’s future seemed as bright as morning’s first clouds.” Her poetry helped her to feel invincible, rather than invisible. And her poetry helped others to see the invisible people in her neighborhood. She became the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She became the Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I really loved the soft illustrations and had a good time learning about Ms Brooks

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin *BookDragon_Library*

    Beautiful acrylic illustrations and poetry like pros are perfect for this book. Another 2020 picture book biography that is stunning and about somebody whose life I wasn’t very familiar with. Born in 1917 and living in Chicago similar to the reporter Ethel and another picture book I just read. It was Mostly a reflection on her life with some pieces of history woven in but more heavy on the biography side than the general United States history side. Definitely recommend.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chantel

    Picture books about poet Gwendolyn Brooks. About her beginnings as a young writer, her perseverance to continue to write after many rejections to become a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner. Great for all ages.

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