Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson | Book Review

Book Review of Feed Your Mind
The Children’s Book Review

What to expect: August Wilson, history, racial justice

This gorgeously illustrated picture book about the life of playwright August Wilson is full of beautiful language and thought-provoking topics perfect for middle or high-schoolers.

Pulitzer-prize winner August Wilson, perhaps best known for his plays—including FENCES, which recently was made into an Oscar-nominated film—comes alive as a young child and later a young adult in this engaging book. Written in verse and separated by phases of his life, August Wilson’s sometimes turbulent, fascinating life comes into focus. The bright young four-year-old who can read and devours words on jam jars and the young man who adores words and is oh-so-talented is bullied in high school for his race. Hit, threatened, made miserable – young Freddy, as he is then known, leaves the hatred behind.

There is an incredible amount of history and cultural commentary in this book. Not only is Freddy Kittel (later August Wilson) brought to life, but so is the unbelievably hard—and at many times alarming—culture he lived in during the 1950s and beyond. This book not only shows how August Wilson grew into the writer who went on to produce many famous and critically acclaimed plays, but it also shows his struggles with racism and bigotry.

Now, more than ever, a book about the past can create meaningful discussion and dialog among older children in the present. The beautiful words and fascinating illustrations draw older children in and make his story all the more accessible. But the core of the story – about a young boy who grew through diversity and never gave up on his voice or his dream, will resonate with all. His quote on the back of the book is perhaps one of the most inspiring:

“I don’t write for Black people or white people; I write about the Black experience in America. And contained within that experience, because it is a human experience, are all the universalities.”

An excellent book to spark meaningful discussion, FEED YOUR MIND is a triumph. Highly recommended.

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About the Author

Jen Bryant is the author of the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book River of Words and many other picture books for children.

About the Illustrator

Cannaday Chapman is an illustrator whose work has been featured in the New York Times and on the cover of The New Yorker. Feed Your Mind is his first picture book.

Feed Your Mind, A Story of August Wilson, written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Cannaday Chapman, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like Feed Your Mind, A Story of August Wilson by following our reviews and articles tagged with August Wilson, history, and racial justice.

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August 6, 2021 at 08:20PM Denise Mealy