top of page

Other Books

Janna and the Kings

November 2003

“An African-American girl looks forward to Saturdays, which she spends with her grandfather. When they are together, Janna becomes Princess Sugarlump and he becomes a king. They enjoy walks down Madison Street, trips to the corner store, and Janna's favorite place, Terrell's barbershop. The other kings await her entrance and greet her with sweet words such as "pretty" and "there's our baby," making her feel extra special. When Granddaddy dies, Janna is devastated. In an effort to enter the world again, she walks down Madison Street and finally decides to stop in the barbershop. The kind voices once again beckon her inside, and Janna realizes that her granddaddy is still present among the other kings. Filled with descriptive language, this book is a good choice to use in helping children to deal with death. The vibrant watercolor paintings successfully set the tone of this intergenerational story”. — School Library Journal

Africans in America

November 1998

“Designed to complement a PBS series of the same name, this is much more than a companion book. A monumental research effort wed with fine writing has produced a work that can stand on its own. Studded with a dozen short stories by Johnson, the NBA-winning author of Middle Passage, and filled with arresting period illustrations, it is ultimately shaped by Smith’s beautiful narrative. There is plenty to praise, in particular the drawing together of several slave narratives and other accounts to flesh out the true picture of slave lives in this country. The ugly reality of the "triangle trade" and the initial confusion of newly enslaved Africans are fully realized, while the apparent hypocrisy and contradictory reasoning of the Founding Fathers is given a human face.”  — Publishers Weekly

Close to Death

September 1993

“Fueled by passion and a sense of urgency, many of the pieces here meet the promise of Smith's (Big Towns, Big Talk) two previous collections. Her acute ear for the intricacies of speech adds vitality to poems written in the voices of black men she encounters amid the inner-city squalor of Chicago and Boston.” — Publishers Weekly

Big Towns, Big Talk

September 1992

“Patricia Smith’s work is direct, colloquial, inclusive, adventuresome.” — Gwendolyn Brooks


“The voice that emerges in her poems is strong, fearless, and passionate….Of the young black poets writing today, Smith is one of the strongest new talents…Smith is a’90s poet whose work might be compared to Nikki Giovanni’s early work (except that Smith’s is more specifically passionate) and to some of Lucille Clifton’s work, with its double edge of anger and sensuality.” — Choice

Life According to Motown

September 1991 (20th Anniversary Edition Published September 2011)

Smith's promising first collection of poems draws from her experiences growing up--``growing tall tangled in bitter root''--on Chicago's segregated West Side during the race-torn '60s. There, the music of Motown defined cultural identity and sexuality, and, Smith says, ``I was the supreme mistress of Motown, wise in the ways of love, pretending I knew why my blue jeans had begun to burn.’' — Publishers Weekly

Please reload

bottom of page