Cover image for Carol of the brown king : nativity poems
Carol of the brown king : nativity poems
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1998]

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Five poems by Langston Hughes and one anonymous one translated from the Spanish present the story of the first Christmas from different perspectives.
General Note:
"A Jean Karl book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.0 0.5 46246.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3515.U274 C37 1998 Juvenile Current Holiday Item Childrens Area-Holiday
PS3515.U274 C37 1998 Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

On Order



The wonder of Christmas never ceases. Each year the holiday comes and its story seems fresh and new. The ways of telling about the very first Christmas are as many and as varied as the stars in the sky. And so it was for Langston Hughes, who recounted those long-ago events in six different ways -- in live poems he wrote and in one he translated from the Spanish.
In this memorable book, these six poems are simply and movingly illustrated by Ashley Bryan. That Christmas is for everyone -- young and old, black and white, rich and poor -- has never been more clearly shown. Though African American children -- and adults -- will find the book a special one for them, everyone who takes time to enjoy the book will come away with a new understanding of the holiday.
Ashley Bryan has long been known for his interest in and illustration of African American spirituals and poetry. Here he puts his gifts of illustration to work in a way that seems to reflect his dedication to both.

Author Notes

Langston Hughes, February 1, 1902 - May 22, 1967 Langston Hughes, one of the foremost black writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance, was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Mo. Hughes briefly attended Columbia University before working numerous jobs including busboy, cook, and steward. While working as a busboy, he showed his poems to American poet Vachel Lindsay, who helped launch his career. He soon obtained a scholarship to Lincoln University and had several works published.

Hughes is noted for his depictions of the black experience. In addition to the black dialect, he incorporated the rhythms of jazz and the blues into his poetry. While many recognized his talent, many blacks disapproved of his unflattering portrayal of black life. His numerous published volumes include, "The Weary Blues," "Fine Clothes to the Jew," and "Montage of a Dream Deferred." Hughes earned several awards during his lifetime including: a Guggenheim fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Grant, and a Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.

Langston Hughes died of heart failure on May 22, 1967.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. This colorful volume presents six short Christmas poems, five written by Langston Hughes and the sixth "translated from a Puerto Rican Christmas card." Hughes focuses on the first Christmas, with verses such as this one from the title poem: "Of the three Wise Men / Who came to the King, / One was a brown man, / so they sing." Indeed, in Bryan's joyful, reverent paintings, nearly every character is brown, from the holy family to the shepherd boy to the modern man and woman reading Christmas stories to their attentive grandchildren. Glowing with bright hues and lively patterns, the large tempera-and-gouache paintings light up every page. A good choice for the many African American children who would like to see their images reflected in the characters of "the greatest story ever told." --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3‘In this lovely book, Bryan has illustrated Langston Hughes's "Carol of the Brown King," "Shepherd's Song at Christmas," "On a Christmas Night," "On a Pallet of Straw," and "The Christmas Story"‘plus a translation of a verse from a Puerto Rican Christmas card. The poems are simple and direct, celebrating the first Christmas and the place it holds in lives and hearts today. "Carol of the Brown King" ends with the words, "Three Wise Men,/ One dark like me‘/Part of His/Nativity." The paintings, rendered in tempera and gouache, are luminous and bright, and add tremendous appeal to the poems. They also extend the intent of the verses to portray Christmas as having meaning for all people, no matter what their race; the Holy Family is depicted as black, as is a young shepherd who comes to offer gifts to Baby Jesus. In one particularly moving painting, the Baby is sleeping on his mother's back, wrapped in a shawl, while Mary looks over her shoulder at readers, cowrie shells in her braided hair. Even very young children will enjoy the short poems and colorful illustrations, and beginning readers will have no problem reading the selections themselves. A gift to enhance any Christmas collection.‘EM (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.