Cover image for Me and Uncle Romie : a story inspired by the life and art of Romare Bearden
Me and Uncle Romie : a story inspired by the life and art of Romare Bearden
Hartfield, Claire.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A boy from North Carolina spends the summer in New York City visiting the neighborhood of Harlem, where his uncle, collage artist Romare Bearden, grew up. Includes a biographical sketch of Bearden and instructions on making a story collage.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 58378.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Whooo-ooo! Train's a' coming! James can't wait to get on board and go visit his uncle way up north in New York City. But he also just wishes he could take a little bit of home along with him-things like baseball games, and the special birthday cake Mama always makes. Will Uncle Romie, who's some kind of artist, know about things like that?

Young readers will feel as if they're discovering the city's wonders, and making an unexpected friend, right along with James in this vibrant story, expressively illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Jerome Lagarrigue.

A how-to section on storytelling collages and a short biography of Romare Bearden are included.

Author Notes

Claire Hartfield is a native and lifelong resident of Chicago, Illinois. She attended the public schools of Chicago, received her B.A. from Yale University, and her law degree from The University of Chicago.

Claire is the author of the highly acclaimed Me and Uncle Romie which was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by Smithsonian Magazine, a Junior Library Guild Choice, and one of New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing.

The story is historical fiction, based on the life of renowned African-American collage artist, Romare Bearden.

One of Claire's greatest pleasures was raising her own three daughters, Emily, Caroline and Corinne. It was through reading to her girls that she experienced first hand, the ability of books to transform a child's understanding of the world and their place in it. The magical and powerful role of books in the life of children drew her into writing.

In addition to her writing, Hartfield is an attorney and education leader with particular focus on helping to provide educational opportunities to under-served children. She has served as Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer, and is currently Chairman of the Alain Locke Charter School on Chicago's African-American West Side.
During Claire's tenure as a member of the leadership team, Alain Locke Charter School has achieved the #1 test score gains in the history of the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as 1 of 7 schools in the nation best closing the achievement gap.
Claire has also led Alain Locke's programs to identify and develop principals and teachers for urban schools around the country.
Prior to her work in charter schools and education leadership development, Claire worked as a lawyer, specializing in school desegregation litigation, using her legal skills to negotiate equal educational opportunities for those who historically have been relegated to inferior schools.
Claire is currently continuing her work with Alain Locke Charter School and is working on a new book for children.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 3. The work of the landmark Harlem Renaissance painter Romare Bearden is the story behind the story in this handsome picture book that shows how he used paint and collage to create his amazing art. Told as fiction through the eyes of Bearden's young nephew James, who is visiting New York City from North Carolina, the words and pictures express what James sees and feels in the exciting neighborhood streets, what he remembers of home, and how the storytelling scraps relate to Bearden's art. Lagarrigue, who illustrated Nikki Grimes' My Man Blue (1999), once again uses expressive paintings to capture the "beat and bounce" of the city and the powerful bond between a boy and a loving father figure. This would be a stimulating model for art classes, and Hartfield ends with a useful double-page spread encouraging students to create their own storytelling combinations. The collage elements in Lagarrigue's vibrant acrylic pictures are less prominent than in Bearden's own work, but they add depth and rhythm to the beautiful painterly narrative that will introduce many children to the famous artist's life and work. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Art inventively imitates art in this engaging volume. Newcomer Hartfield's fictional tale draws upon the work of collage artist Bearden who, as a child, moved from his native North Carolina to Harlem. Lagarrigue's (My Man Blue) softly focused acrylic paintings introduce collage elements as they effectively evoke the story's period setting, which shifts from the rural South to Manhattan. While his mother awaits the birth of twins, narrator James travels by train to visit his Aunt Nanette and Uncle Romie, who is working hard to finish paintings for his upcoming art show. The man remains behind the closed doors of his studio as his wife shows their nephew the sights of the city. Lagarrigue retains his own style while incorporating the turquoise, brick red, fuschia and other hues so prominent in Bearden's work; the compositions of his cityscapes in particular recall the giant collage The Block (1971). James becomes enamored of bustling Harlem, where he plays stickball and partakes in a rooftop barbecue. On his birthday, the lad wanders into his uncle's studio and is thrilled to discover that Bearden's art captures his favorite spot: "Looking at Uncle Romie's paintings, I could feel Harlem-its beat and bounce." In the satisfying ending, James, back at home with his new twin siblings, feels inspired to create his own collage as a birthday gift for his uncle. Concluding tips on making collages may well encourage readers to do the same. Ages 5-up. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-This vibrant, evocative picture book presents a fictionalized version of Harlem Renaissance artist Bearden through the eyes of a nephew visiting from North Carolina. At first, young James catches only glimpses of his busy, distracted Uncle Romie and quickly decides that this elusive giant of a man must not be much fun. He makes collages, which seems awfully easy, and he's always shut away behind the closed door of his studio. James passes most of his time in New York with his Aunt Nanette, who comes across as a warm, willowy, Caribbean Earth Mother. When the boy's birthday rolls around, however, she has to go to a funeral, leaving only Uncle Romie for company. To James's pleasant surprise, his uncle knows how to have fun and even knows about baseball. Lagarrigue's lush, acrylic illustrations with collage elements recall the tones, brush strokes, and mixture of media that saturate Bearden's groundbreaking work. An author's note acknowledges that Hartfield's story is fiction and provides basic biographical information about the artist. Thumbnail reproductions from Bearden's work round out the narrative.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.