Parents' Guide to

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Splendid biography of first Black Pulitzer Prize winner.

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks Poster Image

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This book is a delightful and inspiring account of the life of poet Gwendolyn Brooks. The story doesn't ignore her circumstances -- she's Black, poor, a woman, a mother, a poet subject to pre-civil-rights-era racism -- and it doesn't make her life a story of pulling herself up by her bootstraps, either. Brooks is simply and extraordinarily a Black woman, mother, wife, and so on, who cannot stop writing when there are stories to be told. Cabrera's acrylic illustrations are a visual feast. Thoughtful details add incredible depth, like the pink foam roller that wraps young Gwendolyn's bangs in one of the opening spreads to the baby son she holds as she looks out onto a busy street in Bronzeville. She seems to be collecting images, sounds, colors, and people to write about later, when she can take a break from mothering. The synergy between the free-verse text and the pictures makes for an intensely satisfying read. Young artists and writers can take heart from Brooks' determined example in this worthy biography.

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