Dave the Potter – Artist, Poet, Slave
by Laban Carrick Hill illustrated by Bryan Collier
published Little, Brown and Company 2010
2011 Caldecott Honor
2011 Coretta Scott King Gold Award for Illustrations
New York Public Library’s Top 50 Children’s Books of All Time
Chicago Public Library’s 2010 Best of the Best List
New York Public Library’s 2010 Best 100 Books of the Year
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2011
2010 Junior Library Guild Selection
Arkansas Diamond Primary Award Reading List
Georgia Children’s Storybook Award 2012-13
NCCBA NC 2012
Louisiana Young Readers Choice 2013
Black-Eyed Susan Award (MD) 2010
Diamond Primary Book Award (AK) 2010
Picture Storybook (GA) 2012
Goldfinch Award (IA) 2012
Prairie Bud Award (SD) 2012
Page Ahead’s 2011 Best Books for Kids Award
This amazing picture book/ poem showcases the inspiring story of Dave the Potter – an african American slave, who lived in South Carolina in the 1800’s. The lyrical text is accompanied by water color and collage images, which pull the reader into the immersive subject. Dave’s talent is immense- he has the ability to take the most simple ingredients – gritty, sandy dirt, and blend it with rainwater, to become a compliant medium used to create beautiful and useful objects.
In the school I attended as a child, in the suburbs of Chicago, we had the privilege of having a kiln as part of the school’s art room facilities. Every year, we would be guided through the process of moulding an inert lump of clay, into a unique item, based around a specific theme. I was not particularly artistic- so, I don’t think any of my pieces remain today…however, I absolutely adored the process of creating- as I think most children do. It’s no surprise, that most childminders, and parents often rely on play dough to keep young children occupied for hours at a time. There is something fascinating about making something from squishy, mushy dough, or clay. However, one quickly realises it takes a large amount of skill to create an object which is both stylish, and efficient in form.
Growing up- one of my favorite parts of television, was watching the kids classic- Sesame Street- I loved the video clips of factories showcasing how different items were made. It was intriguing to look inside, and see how a familiar item, was put together by various machines. Equally, I have always enjoyed watching segments, showing contemporary artists working on a piece. There is something completely awe inducing to watch a creative person working.
This book will capture your enthusiasm. If, you, like me, enjoy seeing the process of how things are made. The multiple steps in creating a large pot, are beautifully illustrated.
The vision of an artist is an intriguing talent. The ability to “see” an image or form in a piece of rock, and to have the courage to make a mark on a blank canvas takes bravery and skill. I have always been fascinated, by the works of Michelangelo. His unfinished series of sculptures, created for the tomb of Julius II, has been utterly captivating for me. One can visit, and see the incredible genius of Michelangelo, at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Florence.
Similarly, Dave, the potter, had an incredible insight into the materials he was working with, and a vision to create a piece of beauty and integrity.
The shoulder and rim shrugged upward as the jar took the shape Dave knew was there, even before he worked the raw mound on his wheel.
From looking at Dave’s many works- it is possible to see his enthusiasm and joy- even though he was a slave- which is remarkable. Dave inscribed many of his pieces with words and poems.
I, made this Jar, all of cross
If, you dont repent, you will be, lost ===
I found this book inspiring- highly recommended.
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?
Clay and the Maker by Tomorrow’s Ever Ending
We are clay in the maker’s hands
Sculpts and shapes me to who I am
Out of the dust of the earth we were formed
In the image of god, dust became man
This world longs for a new horizon
Trashed and scattered at the hands of men
Living in the shadow of what it’s supposed to be
A new creation will come and the world will be complete
Listen to the earth scream and groan
In the pains of childbirth
Desolate wasteland before me
This is not my home
Excellent interview with author Laban Hill on the fascinating life of Dave and more about this book can be found at link beneath