Reviews

Kam Williams, syndicated book and film critic (Continued)

Over the course of her illustrious career, Virginia Hamilton earned every major honor for which her children’s books were eligible: including the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, the NAACP Image Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Coretta Scott King Award, to name a few. Among her many masterpieces were works like The People Could Fly, a collection of two dozen, magically-illustrated folktales relied upon by blacks to cope during slavery.

But because Hamilton’s work was aimed at kids, her readers never got much of an idea about what motivated her to create such a bounty of inspired literary treasures. Fortunately, Arnold Adoff, with the help of fellow editor Kacy Cook, culled through his late wife’s papers, and the upshot of their efforts is Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays & Conversations, a veritable, posthumous memoir which offers a compelling peek into how the innovative author’s mind worked.

For instance, she shares that The People Could Fly was one of those thoroughly pleasurable projects that one comes upon occasionally… It didn’t feel like work; it felt like an exploration of my own heart and being.” Overall, the collection paints a rich portrait of a literary icon revealing her to be a brilliant, opinionated and, fiercely-independent soul whose legacy and innovative approach to storytelling deserves to be the subject of study not merely by African-Americans but by English scholars of all hues for generations to come.

Voted Most Outstanding Journalist of the Decade by the Disilgold Soul Literary Review in 2008, Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the U.S. and Canada. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee, and Rotten Tomatoes. In addition to a B.A. in black studies from Cornell, he has an M.A. in English from Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a J.D. from Boston University. Kam lives in Princeton, N.J., with his wife and son.

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