What We’re Reading: The People Could Fly, told by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
By Diane Schroeder
The People Could Fly is a picture book written by Virginia Hamilton and gorgeously illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. This book is a folktale about slaves who possess ancient magic that enabled them to fly into the sky and away to freedom.
Legend has it that a long ago some people in Africa knew magic and had wings to be able to fly. They shed their black wings but kept their power when they were shipped to America as slaves. An old slave uses his magic and helps other slaves fly away but he has to leave the slaves who didn’t possess magic behind. The slaves that couldn’t fly told the tale throughout the generations so that they would have hope for being free in the future. It’s a moving tale of those who were able to fly away and those who remained as slaves.
The illustrations express the tale’s themes about oppression and freedom as well as despair and hope. Rich, vibrant images decorate each page. The illustrations are gloomy but also hopeful just like the story. This book is beautifully done in both writing and imagery. I enjoyed this book and if you are into folklore I would give this book a read. Even if you aren’t into folktales it’s something different. Go check out The People Could Fly.