Kadir told us a story about when he visited the Capitol, and viewed all the beautiful artwork in the rotunda. He saw "Declaration of Independence", "Landing of Columbus", "Baptism of Pocahontas", and others that document the history of the US. But it was glaringly obvious that one large piece of our history was missing - that of the African American. Which inspired Kadir to write and illustrate this book, something his whole life's work had been leading him towards.
"Heart and Soul" tells the story of the birth of the United States from the viewpoint of the African American...from slavery, to abolition, the Civil War, the migration westward, suffrage, and civil rights. He tips his hat to Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, the Freedmen, the Buffalo Soldiers, Booker T. Washington, Joe Louis Barrow and Dr. King, as well as members of his own family. It is a thorough lesson in history, be you black or white, all narrated in the voice of an elderly family member telling the story of "how it was back then".
But the most breath-taking part of the book are the paintings that Kadir has produced. Yes, they are paintings, each and every one of them, that have been transcribed to the page. Even by showing you examples, you cannot appreciate the true beauty unless you see them in person. Each and every one is worthy of framing.
Kadir explained that he either photographs himself or someone else in the correct position so the painting is as realistic as possible. In the photo of the young boy above, he had a neighbor boy put on an adult-sized shirt. In the painting of the slave ship, he used actual profile shots for each figure. The hands below are of an elderly woman that lives on his block. In one instance, he took an actual photo of his grandmother (whom he loves, which is endearing) and regressed her features to that of a young girl for the book.
I can't think of a single human being that wouldn't benefit from such a thoughtful and gorgeous book. It would work in a classroom, it would work for teenagers or adults, and it would look great on a coffee table (the size is substantial enough to showcase his artwork). This one needs to be on everyone's Christmas list!
Kathy (BermudaOnion) reviewed this book as well, please take a look. She also featured a YouTube video that is worth watching. Here it is:
5 out of 5 stars