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Cover image for Heart and soul : the story of America and African Americans
Heart and soul : the story of America and African Americans
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Balzer + Bray, c2011.
Physical Description:
108 p. : col. ill. ; 29 cm.
Reading Level:
1050 L Lexile
An simple introduction to African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 973.0496 NEL 1 1
Book J 973.0496 NEL 1 1
Book J 973.0496 NEL 1 1
Book J 973.0496 NEL 1 1
Book J 973.0496 NEL 1 1

On Order



Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews.

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice--the true heart and soul of our nation.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Author Notes

Kadir Nelson began drawing at the age of three, and painting at age ten. He won an art scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating with honors, he began his professional career as an artist. He has worked with numerous companies including Dreamworks, where he served as the lead conceptual artist for Amistad and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron; Sports Illustrated; Coca-Cola; The United States Postal Service; and Major League Baseball. In 1999, he started collaborating with several notable authors on a series of picture books including Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen; Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange; and Salt in His Shoes by Deloris and Roslyn Jordan. He won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, a Caldecott Honor and an NAACP Image Award for illustrating Carol Boston Weatherford's Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. He is the author and illustrator of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

As in We Are the Ship, Nelson knits together the nation's proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama. He handles this vast subject with easy grace, aided by the voice of a grandmotherly figure who's an amalgam of voices from Nelson's own family. She does not gloss over the sadness and outrage of her family's history, but her patient, sometimes weary tone ("The law didn't do a thing to stop it," she says about the Ku Klux Klan. "Shoot, some of the men wearing the sheets were lawmen") makes listeners feel the quiet power that survival requires. In jaw-dropping portraits that radiate determination and strength, Nelson paints heroes like Frederick Douglass and Joe Louis, conferring equal dignity on the slaves, workers, soldiers, and students who made up the backbone of the African-American community. The images convey strength and integrity as he recounts their contributions, including "the most important idea ever introduced to America by an African American"-Dr. King's nonviolent protest. A tremendous achievement. Ages 9-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

"Most folks my age and complexion don't speak much about the past," begins the unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history. But this doesn't stop her from telling the story in a sweeping account that succinctly covers history from the Colonial era to the present day. The aged woman tells of her own grandfather, who was captured in Africa at age six and illegally sold into slavery in 1850. From Pap's story, we get a sense of what it was like to be a slave, a Union soldier, a sharecropper during Reconstruction, and a Buffalo soldier in Oklahoma; eventually he heads north to Chicago as part of the Great Migration. From there, the narrator takes over with her first-person account that includes the women's suffrage movement, the Depression, World War II, and the civil rights movement, and ends with he pride she felt voting for President Obama. "As I cast my vote, I thought about my grandfather Pap, who didn't live to see this moment, and my three children and two brothers, who did." As in We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball (rev. 5/08), Nelson effectively creates a voice that is at once singular and representative. Each page of text is accompanied by a magnificent oil painting, most of which are moving portraits -- some of famous figures such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, and Joe Louis; others of unnamed African Americans, such as a Revolutionary War soldier, a child cleaning cotton, and a factory worker. The illustrations (forty-seven in all, including six dramatic double-page spreads), combined with the narrative, give us a sense of intimacy, as if we are hearing an elder tell stories as we look at an album of family photographs. A tour de force in the career of an author/artist who continues to outdo himself. kathleen t. horning (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Nelson, the creator of We Are the Ship (2008), recipient of both a Coretta Scott King Author Award and a Robert F. Siebert Medal, adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, including both portraits and panoramic spreads, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her. The tone is intimate, even cozy, as the speaker addresses a contemporary honey chile and shares historical accounts that sometimes take a wry view of inequality: about a journey north, for example, she observes that Jim Crow has made the trip right along with us. Grim struggle is always present in her telling, though, and the passages include the horror of race riots, illustrated with a terrifying painting of a burning cross. With such a broad time frame, there is a lot to fit into a100 or so pages, but Nelson effectively captures the roles of ordinary people in landmark events ( We called ourselves the Freedom Riders ) while presenting famous leaders who changed the world, from Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks to Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and, finally, President Barack Obama. A detailed time line and a bibliography of books and DVDs closes this powerful, accessible history which will find wide circulation in both schools and public libraries.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. By Ruta Sepetys. (Philomel, $17.99.) This haunting novel exposes the horrors of Stalin from the perspective of a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl, evacuated to a camp in Siberia. A "superlative first novel," Linda Sue Park wrote in the Book Review. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. By Laini Taylor. (Little, Brown, $18.99.) "A breath-catching romantic fantasy about destiny, hope and the search for one's true self," according to our reviewer, Chelsey Philpot, this high-speed adventure involves love between angel and demon. LEVEL UP. By Gene Luen Yang. Illustrated by Thien Pham. (First Second, $15.99.) Smart, hilarious and affecting, this graphic novel tells the story of an aspiring gastroenterologist and video game enthusiast struggling between realizing his father's dreams and understanding his own ambitions. A MONSTER CALLS. By Patrick Ness. Illustrated by Jim Kay. (Candlewick, $16.99.) Based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd, this novel tackles the subject of a young boy dealing with his mother's death. "Powerful medicine," our reviewer wrote, and "a potent piece of art." THE SCORPIO RACES. By Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic Press, $17.99.) Based on Celtic myth, this vivid and original fantasy involves magical waterhorses and two riders determined to win the annual Scorpio races. "A complex literary thriller that pumps new blood into a genre suffering from post-"Twilight' burnout," our reviewer said. MIDDLE GRADE AMELIA LOST: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming. Illustrated. (Schwartz & Wade, $18.99.) Gives children the nuanced, accurate portrait of America's famed pilot they deserve - as well as a good story, impeccably researched. DRAWING FROM MEMORY. Written and illustrated by Allen Say. (Scholastic, $17.99.) Part memoir, part graphic novel, this account from the Caldecott medalist describes how his coming of age in Japan paved his path to children's literature. EVERY THING ON IT. By Shel Silverstein. (HarperCollins, $19.99.) On par with "A Light in the Attic," this posthumous collection of 140 poems makes you miss Silverstein and his seemingly effortless but incomparably funny, touching verse all the more. THE FINGERTIPS OF DUNCAN DORFMAN. By Meg Wolitzer. (Dutton, $16.99.) A novel about the real world of championship Scrabble, with a fantastical twist. Our reviewer, Stefan Fatsis, called it an "empathetic and sometimes farcical exploration of the emotionally confusing lives of preadolescent boys and girls." HEART AND SOUL. Written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. (Baher & Bray/HarperCollins, $19.99.) "A grand and awe-inspiring survey of the black experience in America," Walter Dean Myers wrote in the Book Review. This is history for children on both an epic and human scale. OKAY FOR NOW. By Gary D. Schmidt. (Clarion, $16.99.) The lead from "The Wednesday Wars" returns in this tragicomic story about a struggling middle grader. Our reviewer, Richard Peck, read this book "about the healing power of art and about a boy's intellectual awakening" through "misting eyes." QUEEN OF THE FALLS. Written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. (Houghton Mifflin, $18.99.) The bittersweet true story of a 62-year-old teacher who became the first person to barrel over Niagara Falls. Van Allsburg resists romanticizing the story and includes its melancholic edges, illustrated in exquisitely detailed drawings. SECRETS AT SEA. By Richard Peck. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. (Dial, $16.99.) This mouse adventure follows four siblings as they cruise to England, accompanying their husband-hunting human counterparts. "Rife with snappy asides and clever but never heavy-handed," our reviewer wrote. SERIOUSLY, NORMAN! Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka. (Michael di Capua/Scholastic, $17.95.) This humorous first novel by picture book author Raschka describes life from the perspective of a less than stellar student. "Reading it is a visual, loopy, absurdist experience," Meg Wolitzer, our reviewer, said. WONDERSTRUCK. Written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $29.99.) Telling the story of a boy who searches for his father in New York and the tale of a deaf girl in 1920s Hoboken, Selznick weaves the two into a seamless story that "teaches a respect for the past and for the power of memory to make minds," Adam Gopnik wrote in these pages. PICTURE BOOKS BLACKOUT. Written and illustrated by John Rocco. (Disney/Hyperion, $16.99.) There's no place like New York in a blackout, at least as it's depicted in this gorgeously dreamy landscape of deep midnight blues. The city comes alive after dark at the same time a family becomes aware of the comforts of home in a story about how a community and a family come together when the lights go out. GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE. BySherri Duskey Rinker. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. (Chronicle, $16.99.) A debut author and an accomplished illustrator team up in a meeting of bedtime tale and construction book. This lullaby in rhyming couplets will also be loved by girls, with its images of vehicles clasping stars and cradling teddy bears. I WANT MY HAT BACK. Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Candlewick, $15.99.) A bear has lost his hat. A rabbit has stolen it. The bear finds out. From this premise, Klassen has created an inventive book that will have children scratching their heads and then laughing with glee once they "get it." Both story and bear have bite. I MUST HAVE BOBO! By Eileen Rosenthal. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. (Atheneum, $14.99.) A melodramatic boy, Willy, and a cat, Earl, both lay claim to a sock monkey. With adorable illustrations and sharp but spare text. ME . . . JANE. Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. (Little, Brown, $15.99.) Jane Goodall, the subject of this pictorial biography, and Patrick McDonnell, author and illustrator, are splendidly matched. Careful scenes captured in watercolors show how Goodall's childhood shaped her adult life. MEADOWLANDS: A Wetlands Survival Story. Written and illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99.) Meticulously researched and expertly drawn, "Meadowlands" is impassioned without being preachy. A fine introduction to our role in environmental devastation and protection. MY NAME IS ELIZABETH. By Annika Dunklee. Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe. (Kids Can Press, $14.95.) The indignity and aggravation of the mispronounced and mistakenly abbreviated name! Elizabeth, a feisty and outspoken girl, addresses those who misaddress her in this artfully drawn tale. OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW. By Kate Messner. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. (Chronicle, $16.99.) A girl and her father are skiing when a red squirrel darts below the snow. Quiet, gentle and incomparably lovely, this book reveals a wintertime world under the surface. POMELO BEGINS TO GROW. By Ramona Bodescu. Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. Translated by Claudia Bedrick. (Enchanted Lion, $16.95.) A baby elephant's growth spurt also spurs worries. "Funny, smart and idiosyncratic, graceful and intuitive in a way that feels as much dreamed as written," our reviewer, Bruce Handy, said. SAMANTHA ON A ROLL. By Linda Ashman. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. (Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.99.) A girl, a pair of new roller skates, a preoccupied parent. This ode to the glorious adventures - if also perils - of benign neglect pairs Ashman's perfectly rhymed text with Davenier's animated, humorous drawings.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-An unnamed narrator of a collection of family stories relates stirring accounts of relatives who fought by George Washington's side, worked in fields and factories, and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Electrifying portraits shed light on the triumphs and tragedies of our nation's history as reflected in the faces of its people. (Sept.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In an undertaking even more ambitious than the multiple-award-winning We Are the Ship (2008), Nelson tells the story of African-Americans and their often central place in American history.Directly after the prologue, the narrative begins with the U.S. Capitol, built by slaves and freeman before Nelson steps back and shows the intricate ways American and African-American history were intertwined from the earliest days of the country's founding. Using an unnamed female narrator, Nelson fashions a unique mode of storytelling that is both historical and personal. The narrator guides readers through major events in American history through the perspective of, first, enslaved people, then those legally free but hindered by discrimination and, finally, citizens able to fully participate in American life following the Civil Rights Movement. As with any work by this talented artist, the accompanying illustrations are bold and arresting. The dramatic oil paintings heighten the dignity of this story, whether they are of well-known historical figures, common folk or landscape. With such a long time period to cover, the careful choices Nelson makes of which stories to tell make this a successful effort. While there is little room for historical nuance, Nelson does include the way events such as World War I and the fight for woman suffrage affected the Black community.This intimate narrative makes the stories accessible to young readers and powerfully conveys how personal this history feels for many African-Americans. (Nonfiction. 10 up) ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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