Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

by Laban Carrick Hill (Author) Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A Caldecott Honor

A Coretta Scott King Award Winner

An award-winning celebration of an American hero

Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave. In this inspiring and lyrical portrayal, National Book Award nominee Laban Carrick Hill's elegantly simple text and award-winning artist Bryan Collier's resplendent, earth-toned illustrations tell Dave's story, a story rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 4—The life of an astonishingly prolific and skilled potter who lived and died a slave in 19th-century South Carolina is related in simple, powerful sentences that outline the making of a pot. The movements of Dave's hands are described using familiar, solid verbs: pulling, pinching, squeezing, pounding. Rural imagery—a robin's puffed breast, a carnival wheel—remind readers of Dave's surroundings. The pithy lines themselves recall the short poems that Dave inscribed on his pots. Collier's earth-toned watercolor and collage art extends the story, showing the landscape, materials, and architecture of a South Carolina farm. Alert readers will find hidden messages in some of the collages, but what stands out in these pictures are Dave's hands and eyes, and the strength of his body, reflected in the shape and size of his legendary jars and pots. A lengthy author's note fleshes out what is known of the man's life story and reproduces several of his two-line poems. A photograph of some of Dave's surviving works cements the book's link to the present and lists of print and online resources encourage further exploration. An inspiring story, perfectly presented and sure to prompt classroom discussion and projects. Outstanding in every way.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

Copyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Laban Carrick Hill
Laban Carrick Hill is the author of more than thirty books, including the 2004 National Book Award Finalist Harlem Stomp!, a book he researched for nearly a decade, and America Dreaming, which examines the legacy of the 1960s. He has taught writing at Columbia University, Baruch College, and St. Michael's College and is currently teaching at the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. He is also the cofounder and codirector of the Writers Project of Ghana, based in the US and Ghana.

Bryan Collier has illustrated more than twenty-five picture books, including the award-winning Trombone Shorty, Dave the Potter, and Knock Knock: My Father's Dream for Me, as well as City Shapes, and Fifty Cents and a Dream, and has received four Caldecott Honors and six Coretta Scott King Awards. He lives with his wife and children in Marlboro, New York.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2010
Caldecott Medal
Honor Book 2011 - 2011
Coretta Scott King Award
Winner 2011 - 2011
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2011 - 2011
Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize
Finalist 2011 - 2011
North Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominee 2012 - 2012
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2011 - 2012
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2013
Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award
Nominee 2012 - 2013
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2012 - 2013
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2013 - 2013

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