Harlem Renaissance Party, by Faith Ringold, for Timeslip Tuesday

Harlem Renaissance Party, by Faith Ringold (Amistad, January 2015), is a somewhat didactic time travel book--a magic airplane (at least one assumes its magic) transports a young boy, Lonnie, and his uncle back in time to celebrate the Harlem Renaissance.  The book basically introduces Lonnie to all the great writers, artists, and musicians, and then he goes home again.  So not much actually happens that has story to it; there's no narrative tension--it's basically just the meetings and greetings and listing of accomplishments.  In short, a celebration more than an adventure....time travel as learning opportunity for character and reader.

I happen to know, because I read Faith Ringold's earlier book, Bonjour Lonnie, that Lonnie's grandfather was black.  But it might be confusing to readers who don't know for sure that Lonnie is multiracial to see his red hair and pale skin, although his uncle is clearly black, so one can assume even before Lonnie confirms it that he identifies as African American.  I think it's rather useful, though, to show that identity can't always be assumed from appearance, something that doesn't come up much in picture books....
Faith Ringold's art just doesn't work all that well for me, but that's a matter of personal taste (Lonnie on the cover doesn't look happy at all, for instance, which I feel he should!).  If you want a celebratory introduction to the Harlem Renaissance, this might work well for you (back matter provides more information about the great people Lonnie meets); if you want time travel where the time travel is nuanced and complicated (which picture books are capable of), not so much.

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