Title: In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage
Author: Alan Schroeder
Illustrator: JaeMe Bereal
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, jobs, human resources, economics of education
Review: With his fourteen children to rear and his strict religious views, Augusta Savage’s father had no patience or tolerance for his daughter’s fondness of sculpting small figures from the open clay pit behind their house. Fortunately his strong discouragement did not squelch her passion, and as she grew into a young adult, Augusta had several opportunities to develop and showcase her unique sculpting talent. One of these opportunities led Augusta from her Florida birthplace to New York City, where she impressed the director of the Cooper Union Art School enough to gain admission to the tuition-free school. She flourished professionally and ultimately became an influential sculptor and teacher in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s.
Because much of Augusta Savage’s art work was either destroyed or kept in unknown locations, the visible reminders of her expressive sculpting style remain limited and out of the public eye. Yet she had a strong impact on the art world, not only with the various busts, carvings, and sculptures that she created, but also through her mentoring and teaching of younger students in her studio. Alan Schroeder and JaeMe Bereal do young readers a tremendous service by bringing this talented artist’s contributions to light. Woven throughout the text is the theme of poverty and how financial constraints influenced the path that she took and the materials with which she chose to work.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children