Nonfiction Monday: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

I am a fan of  American history, pottery (I once took classes), and poetry which is why I enjoyed Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill.  Told in simple, sparse verse, readers come to know Dave, a slave and important America artist of the 1800’s. The book opens

“To us
it is just dirt,
the ground we walk on.
Scoop up a handful.
The gritty grains slip
between you fingers.

On wet days,
heavy with rainwater,
it is cool and squishy,
mud pie heaven.

But to Dave
it was clay,
the plain and basic stuff
upon which he learned to
form a life nearly
two hundred years ago.”

Readers find out how he designed pots, created the glazing slip, and then wrote a small phrase as short and elegant as a haiku on the pot.   It was his way of letting us all know he existed.   Much of what we know about Dave is through his inscriptions.

The watercolor/collage illustrations by Bryan Collier enhance the text. Collier traveled to Edgefield, SC to research pottery making. While there is no references showing what Dave the potter looked like, Collier, used a model which reflect the spirit of the potter.

The book has further information about Dave at the end, a bibliography, and notes from both the author and illustrator.

Title: Dave the Potter; Artist, Poet, Slave
Author: Laban Carrick Hill
Illustrator:  Bryan Collier
Date Published: 2010
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: all ages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-316-10731-0
Source of book: From the library
Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Playing by the Book.

Happy Monday. Happy Reading.


5 thoughts on “Nonfiction Monday: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

  1. This book is the greatest classroom read. In addition to its standalone merits, it provides openings for talking about human rights, history, art, individuality… it’s a real bang-for-your-buck book!

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