Cover image for Little man, little man : a story of childhood
Title:
Little man, little man : a story of childhood
ISBN:
9781478000044
Physical Description:
xxi, 98 pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm.
Contents:
Acknowledgments -- Foreword: Little man, Little man: we the children / Tejan Karefa-Smart -- Introduction / Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody. Little man, little man. Afterword / Aisha Karefa-Smart.
Summary:
Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a "Little Man" with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin's only children's book celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood. This new edition includes a foreword by Baldwin's nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child's perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America's greatest writers.
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On Order

Summary

Summary

Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a "Little Man" with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin's only children's book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.

Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man --which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac--includes a foreword by Baldwin's nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child's perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America's greatest writers.


Author Notes

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in New York. Baldwin's father was a pastor who subjected his children to poverty, abuse, and religious fanaticism. As a result, many of Baldwin's recurring themes, such as alienation and rejection, are attributable to his upbringing.

Living the life of a starving artist, Baldwin went through numerous jobs, including dishwasher, office boy, factory worker, and waiter. In 1948, he moved to France, where much work originated. Baldwin published Go Tell It on the Mountain in 1953. A largely autobiographical work, it tells of the religious awakening of a fourteen-year-old. In addition to his childhood experiences, his experiences as a black man and a homosexual provided inspiration for such works as Giovanni's Room, Nobody Knows My Name, and Another Country.

Baldwin holds a distinguished place in American history as one of the foremost writers of both black and gay literature. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement.

Baldwin succumbed to cancer on December 1, 1987.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Jimmy!" James Baldwin's nephew, Tejan Karefa-Smart, pestered him, "When are you going to write a book about me?" Baldwin took up the project with utter seriousness, and the result has the weight and significance of a novel. Originally published to little fanfare in 1976, the book went out of print soon afterward; Duke University Press is now reissuing it, following its discovery in the writer's archives by a young scholar. Baldwin's day-in-the-life account of his nephew's New York City neighborhood revolves around four-year-old TJ, the youngest boy on the block; seven-year-old WT, watched over by TJ's family ("WT father gone. His Mama work till past dark"); and their neighbor, eight-year-old Blinky. The three spend hours together playing ball, jumping rope, and making each other laugh. WT and Blinky look out for TJ, and TJ chafes under WT's constant gaze ("WT always want to sound like he so grown-up"), but he loves him, too ("He a pain but he really beautiful"). Seen through TJ's eyes and written in the black English Baldwin celebrated, the story views the life of his family and their neighborhood in a swirl of impressions, memories, and anxieties ("He always got this feeling that maybe something awful done happened to his Mama and Daddy"). Raw moments-the drug-induced stupor of WT's older brother, the fraught marriage of the janitor, Mr. Man, and his wife, Miss Lee-alternate with scenes of deep warmth: TJ's Daddy saying "I want you to be proud of your people" and the description of TJ's Mama ("She love TJ and she tell him everything he need to know, like every time he ask her a question she give him a straight answer"). French artist Cazac's scribbly-line spreads and vignettes, tinted with watercolor, seem charged with electricity. Through luminous prose and fine observation, readers come to care deeply about TJ and his friends, and they'll wish their story didn't end so soon. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

This new edition of Baldwins 1976 childs story for adults, about the day-to-day adventures of a little boy, TJ, on his Harlem block, includes a foreword by Baldwins nephew (the inspiration for TJ) and an afterword by Baldwins niece (the real TJs sister). An introduction by Baldwin scholars Boggs and Brody sets context: This experimental, illustrated literary workconfounded readers at the time. When Julius Lester reviewed it for theNew York Times, he lamented that while there were brilliant flashes of the Baldwin many of us love, the book has no storyline, lacks intensity and focus, and thus fails as a work of childrens literature. Baldwin called it a celebration of the self-esteem of black children. And while its not for four-year-olds (TJs age), this slice-of-life portrait of an African American community, with loose, evocative illustrations by French abstract artist Cazac, may appeal to mirrors-and-windows-seeking middle-graders-and-up. elissa Gershowitz (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Back in print after decades, Baldwin's warmly vernacular tale celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of childhood on a 1970s-era Harlem block rippling with black life. French artist Cazac's original vibrant watercolor illustrations are fully restored in this new edition. In a new foreword, Baldwin's nephew Tejan Karefa-Smart, affectionately known as TJ, informs readers that "Uncle Jimmy" wrote this book to answer his youthful request: "When you gonna write a book about MeeeeEEE?" Thus 4-year-old TJ stands at the center of the story, with 7-year-old WT and 8-year-old Blinky joining him in an eventful day full of music bumping from Mr Man's basement apartment, playful fits of African strut-dancing, and the occasional neighborly favor. Baldwin adopts an experimental structure, interrupting the present-day account with background scenes of beauty and tragedy, including a cinematic montage that introduces this familial, close-knit Harlem block through the choreography of a fatal police chase. This is offset by joyous moments, such as TJ's flashback to family breakfast on Sunday morning when the little boy feels Mama's love and hears Daddy's lessons: "I want you to be proud of your people." The people, places, and circumstances that TJ and readers encounter are emblematic of many issues children's literature still struggles to represent today: Alcoholism, drug addiction, economic disparity, street violence, and racism all make appearances in critical yet loving ways. The editors' introduction and an afterword by Baldwin's niece Aisha Karefa-Smart further contextualize this new edition.Pulled from the past, this is a brilliant exploration of black childhood with profound emotional depth, drawn from the grace and struggles of community and reinforcing the truth that no one knows Harlem like Baldwin. (Fiction. 8-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.