Cover image for The women who caught the babies : a story of African American midwives
Title:
The women who caught the babies : a story of African American midwives
ISBN:
9780997772074
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Includes biliographical references (page 30).
Added Author:
Summary:
The Women Who Caught the Babies highlights important aspects of the training and work of African-American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by "catching" their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield's poetry and Daniel Minter's art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African-American midwifes over the course of time. The poem "Africa to America" begins the poetic journey. The poem "The Women" both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled "Miss Rovenia Mayo," which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.
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Summary

Summary

The Women Who Caught the Babies highlights important aspects of the training and work of African-American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by "catching" their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield's poetry and Daniel Minter's art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African-American midwifes over the course of time. The poem "Africa to America" begins the poetic journey. The poem "The Women" both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled "Miss Rovenia Mayo," which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.


Author Notes

Eloise Greenfield was born in Parmele, North Carolina, on May 17, 1929. While she was still an infant, her family moved to Washington, D.C., where she has lived ever since. Ms. Greenfield studied piano as a child and teenager, before getting a full time civil service job. Her decision to write came from a lack of books on African Americans. There were far too few books that told the truth about African-American people. Ms. Greenfield wanted to change that.

Greenfield has received many honors for her work, including the 1990 Recognition of Merit Award presented by the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books in Claremont, California for Honey, I Love; and an honorary degree from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to writing herself, Eloise Greenfield has found time to work with other writers. She headed the Adult Fiction and Children's Literature divisions of the D.C. Black Writers' Workshop (now defunct), a group whose goal was to encourage the writing and publishing of Africa-American literature. She has given free workshops on the writing of African-American literature for children, and, under grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, has taught creative writing to elementary and junior high school students. Ms. Greenfield is also a member of the African-American Writers Guild.

Greenfield has also received the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, given by the National Council of Teachers of English. In 1999 she became a member of the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for Africa Dream, the Carter G. Woodson Award for Rosa Parks, and the Irma Simonton Black Award for She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl. For many of her books, she has received Notable Book citations from the American Library Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Council for the Social Studies. Ms. Greenfield has received, for the body of her work, the 1993 Lifetime Achievement Award from Moonstone, Inc., Philadelphia; and the 1993 Children's Literature and Social Responsibility Award from the Boston Educators for Social Responsibility.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

This poetic tale chronicles the presence and contributions of African American midwives. A five-page historical introduction explains a few specific details of the role of the midwife, including noting their contributions dating back to the time of slavery; this is accompanied by archival, black-and-white photographs. Seven poems follow, celebrating midwives through history. First, Greenfield describes the trans-Atlantic slave journey and how, in America, the elder women taught the younger girls the knowledge and skill of assisting in childbirth, or "catching the babies." The poem "After Emancipation, 1863" speaks to the special exuberance expressed by parents whose children were at last born free from slavery: The midwife "felt the / excitement circling through / the room. / it was more than / the joy of a new baby coming." In "The Early 1900s," the midwife now had more than her hands for the job; she had a stethoscope, scales, and, most likely, her husband, who would transport her via horse and buggy to deliver babies. The poems are accompanied by colorful, symbolic artwork by Minter. One striking image depicts five women connected by sinuous, draping robes, heads bowed in concentration, "gentle, loving" hands at the ends of muscular arms "guid[ing babies] into the world." Greenfield also includes black-and-white photographs of her childhood self, a nod to "Miss Rovenia Mayo," the midwife who "caught" her in 1929. Rites of passage incandescently brought to light. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Through words and images, this unusual book of verse celebrates the long tradition of African American midwives guiding babies into the world with gentle, loving hands. The book opens with Greenfield's prose introduction to midwives' work, their education, and their sense of dedication to a calling. The first poem, The Women, sets the tone: They caught the babies, / and catch them still, / welcome them into the world, / for loving. Other poems are set during the voyage to America, in the period shortly after emancipation, in the early 1900s, and in the early 2000s. The Women appears again with a different illustration, followed by Miss Rovenia Mayo, a poem of remembrance for the midwife who welcomed Greenfield herself into the world. A source bibliography is appended. While well-chosen archival photos accompany the book's introduction and final poem, Minter's full-page paintings beautifully illustrate most of the verse. Strong and graceful, the images feature deep, rich colors brightened with white netlike forms created with repeated motifs and vibrant images evocative of the natural world: the ocean, sea-foam, fishes, birds, branches, leaves, blossoms, fruits, and new life waiting to be born. A unique, moving tribute to the women who caught the babies and continue to do so today.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2010 Booklist