It arrived on my doorstep this week – my long awaited, preordered copy of Jen Bryant’s latest biography, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson. As I paged through it, I knew this was a book I wanted to take my time with. So, over a cup of lemon-ginger tea that afternoon, I learned the story of August Wilson, savoring every word and expressive illustration.
Title: Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson
Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Cannady Chapman
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019 Non-fiction
Intended Audience: Ages 6 up
Themes: Discrimination, perseverance, writing process
Opening page: They call it “Little Harlem” – the city within a city.
A mile east of downtown, it is a mishmash,
a melting pot of workers and their kin –
Syrians, Africans, Poles, and Jews,
Irish, Haitians, Germans, and Italians –
their row homes, apartments, and shacks
jam-packed between sloping streets.
Synopsis: (from Amazon): August Wilson (1945–2005) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who had a particular talent for capturing the authentic, everyday voice of Black Americans. As a child, he read off soup cans and cereal boxes, and when his mother brought him to the library, his whole world opened up. After facing intense prejudice at school from both students and some teachers, August dropped out. However, he continued reading and educating himself independently. He felt that if he could read about it, then he could teach himself anything and accomplish anything.
Why I Like This Book: Here are just a few reasons I think this book is a must read:
- Jen Bryant’s mesmerizing free-verse poetry
- Expressive illustrations that capture the essence of the text
- The structure of two acts, echoing that of many plays. Within each act there are a series of chapters or scenes.
- The extensive back matter that includes an author’s note, time line, bibliography, and quotes
Resources: In addition to the back matter in the book, you can find additional resources, including a teaching guide, interviews, and videos on the author’s website (www.jenbryant.com)