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Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,521 Ratings  ·  425 Reviews
To us
it is just dirt,
the ground we walk on...
But to Dave
it was clay,
the plain and basic stuff
upon which he formed a life
as a slave nearly 200 years ago.

Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 10, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
I can understand why Laban Carrick Hill garnered the Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in this book. The rich, warm, earthy tones of the watercolor painting mixed with the depth achieved by the technique of collage make for effective and inviting pictures. I felt not that I was watching this man from a remote outside place, but rather that I was there, watching him work his magic with the clay. As if I were watching the reenactment of what the everyday life might have been like for ...more
I am not capable of dealing with the whole verse non-fiction trend objectively, my dears. I don't get it, I never will! It's a factual book, it's SUPPOSED to give us details and context, not make us guess at meaning with metaphor, simile and generic imagery.

I had a much more enjoyable time reading the historical notes at the back of the book and looking at the one photo of Dave the Potter's actual work than I did reading the poem itself. The poem text is mostly about the process ANY potter uses
Lisa Vegan
Mar 06, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all potters and artists; American history buffs; those interested in art history
Recommended to Lisa by: Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I’m blown away by the man, even with the many gaps in what is known about him, and this book is a fine tribute to him; I think the book does Dave justice, and so I am pleased.

Powerful true story, and I think I liked all the background information ever better than the story proper. I enjoyed the story, but the writing style might not have appealed to me when I was a child; I’m not certain.

The illustrations are absolutely riveting. I love how what’s going on in the background is shown. I love the
Apr 08, 2015 Alysia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-book
This is a really interesting story. I love the artwork and the poems are nice and easy for a young reader. Dave is a skilled slave and this is a beautiful story that celebrates his artistry and talent.
Nov 19, 2010 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Dave the Potter was an outstanding artist, poet and potter whose influence is still evident in South Carolina pottery. He lived in the 1800s and created his pottery with amazing skill, building enormous pots that could up to 40 gallons. He was one of only two potters known to have the strength and skill to create such large pieces. Dave was also a poet, inscribing his verse on his pottery, offering two lines of poetry and then a date. His poems have the beauty and simplicity of Haiku and offer a ...more
Beautifully simple, simply beautiful. Little known artist, poet, slave, brought to life through Hill's words and Collier's paintings. Hill's words, like Dave's are poetic, starting with his repetitive "To us . . . But for Dave. . . " to his use of one of Dave's poems to close. A fold-over page using a larger font size, announces our first few of the magic coming from Dave's hands. The creamy color of clay on Dave's dark hands make the hands, and their magic, stand out. There are few details of D ...more
Arretta Johnson
As I hold up a glazed piece of pottery shaped into a pitcher, I will ask the class, "Can anyone can tell me what this is and what it is made of?" After several answers are given, I will explain that I have a pitcher that was handed down to me from my grandmother to my mother and then to me. This pitcher was hand made and painted (not by my grandmother) many, many years ago and I was told my grandmother used it to hold hot chocolate. Then I would ask, "Who would like to explain to me your idea of ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Samantha added it
Shelves: multicultural
Text-to-self: In high school, I took several pottery classes and enjoyed making pottery like Dave in the book. I know how difficult it can be to create well constructed pieces of pottery with modern technology. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been back then. He must have been a very skilled artist.

Remembering: Name two things Dave did in the process of making his pottery.
Understanding:What do you think the author meant when they said "Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat,
Adriana Villagomez
Jan 19, 2015 Adriana Villagomez rated it really liked it
Have you ever had the passion to do something but had some obstacles put in front of you? In a time that didn't allow a person of color to learn special skills, Dave the Potter was one of the few slaves that were able to learn this special skill, however, none were quite as good as he. Dave the Potter is a Biography and Poem about a slave from South Carolina. He was one of the few slaves who knew how to make pottery. It is set in the point of view of the author. This story details how Dave made ...more
Joanna Marple
Feb 15, 2012 Joanna Marple rated it it was amazing
Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living as a slave in South Carolina in the 1800s. A potter and a poet. This is story of strength (both spiritually and physically, for it is difficult to throw clay pots of the size and scope Dave made – 20 to 40 gallons) and creativity. It also présents the reader with a mystery, for so little is really know about Dave . . . how was he trained when so few slaves were? How did he learn to read? The artwork is beautiful, but the foldout picture o ...more
Anna Garland
May 12, 2012 Anna Garland rated it it was amazing
Plot: Although this looks like a fictional book from its cover, Dave was a real person; a slave who lived in South Carolina in the 1800s. He was a potter who somehow learned to read and write, and inscribed many of his pots with whimsical short poems, and the date they were created. Although we do not know much about Dave’s life his work and writings make him a most inspirational character and teaches the young reader about the value art and the messages that it can carry. The story, written in ...more
Ch13_megan Carlisle
Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill is a Caldecott Honor Book. The book centers on Dave, a potter, poet and slave. It describes in great detail the steps that Dave went through to create his pots. At the end of the book the author gives a greater set of details regarding the life of Dave. He also includes many of the inscriptions that were found on Dave's pottery pieces.

The piece I most enjoyed about the book was the illustrations. The illustrator pastes images on a page in a fashion similar
Jan 30, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it
This book, by Laban Carrick Hill, is narrative poem about a man named Dave who, for most of his life, was a slave. However, Dave has become more well-known recently for his contribution to American art. The pots he created were magnificent in their own right. However, the words he put onto the side of his pottery are what he is remembered for. Occasionally, he would put a short poem on a piece of pottery. For example, "Dave belongs to Mr. Miles/wher the oven bakes & the bot biles/// July 31, ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This book is one of the 2011 Caldecott Honor books and a Coretta Scott King Award winner for its illustrations. Dave, for whom we have no last name, was a slave and a potter in South Carolina. We know of him primarily from his pots, upon which he inscribed short poems from time to time. What a clever way to immortalize oneself! Laban Carrick Hill takes us through the process Dave must have used to create his pots, while Bryan Collier illustrates it. We don't even know what Dave really looked lik ...more
Sep 08, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book. I recently watched an episode of "History Detectives" on PBS where one of the mysteries surrounded a face jar (also called an "ugly jar") from a pre-Civil War pottery in South Carolina. Although the researchers weren't able to discover who the potter was, they were able to find another piece that was obviously made by the same person. The jars were made to hold personal possessions, and as protection against evil spirits. What I found so touching is that the jars were of ...more
Jun 25, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
This book is a sweet remembrance to an important artist and poet in American history. The book takes children step by step through the process of making a piece of pottery with Dave. The words truly make the potter come to life as they describe his hands, motions and artistry used in creating each piece. This book would appeal to boys and girls from K-3rd grade. The words are challenging yet perfectly inviting for beginning readers. I would encourage teachers to share the story of Dave the Potte ...more
Mar 12, 2012 L12_danielle rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Laban Carrick Hill, author, and Bryan Collier, illustrator teamed up to produce a book beautiful, Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. This story tells of the life and amazing pottery of Dave, a 19th century slave from South Carolina.

There are several classroom applications for this wonderful story. Not only is the text itself worth focusing on, but the informational pages in the back of the book as well as the author and illustrator notes are a MUST read! This book creates many avenues to spar
Sep 28, 2011 528_Laura rated it really liked it
Dave the Potter describes the life and craft of an African American slave in South Carolina in the late 1800’s. The short and powerful text lines, describe the remarkable skill of this important potter and poet in American history. Within the pages, the author, Laban Carrick Hill includes the actual stanzas inscribed on many of Dave's pieces. The earth toned water colored illustrations emphasis the strength needed to mold and spin the large pots which Dave was famous for. Dave the Potter include ...more
You are going to want this book.

This is a rare story, beautifully told, illustrated with power, and it has ties to things that children can touch and do.

What, you want more?

Heh, just kidding. Of course you do. How about you want a story that will help educate children about the time when slavery was legal in the United States, that does not flinch from the tragic inequities of that period, but which nonetheless is not unremittingly bleak? A story that celebrates a person whose skill and artistry
Karen Witzler
Jan 29, 2014 Karen Witzler rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Dave was a real person, an enslaved person, who escaped the annals of the anonymous by signing his name and sometimes lines of poetry to his balanced and beautiful glazed clay jars. Laban Carrick Hill's words and Bryan Collier's illustrations are lovely and bring to life the world of this famous folk potter and craftsman who lived his life as a slave in Edgefield , South Carolina.
Jun 24, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The part that I liked the best was the end of the book where some of his original poems and messages were depicted, analyzed and explained. It was very interesting to know the reasoning behind some of his messages and what he was trying to tell people. I also really liked how the book explained how hard Dave had to work to create his pots. In this day and age, not a lot of younger children know that people had to make pots by hand and the amount of effort it took to p ...more
Loved this! Makes me want to learn more about Dave the Potter. This could also have been called "Dave the Poet" or "Dave the Artist" - although I just now noticed that the subtitle takes care of that! I've enjoyed other books illustrated by Bryan Collier, but I think this is my favorite so far. For kids to understand the act of throwing a pot on a potter's wheel, though, I think they would need to have seen it in person or at least a video of it. The extra author information at the end is vital. ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Bernadette rated it really liked it
Dave the Potter, Artist, Poet, Slave (2010), winner of multiple national book awards including a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award, was written by Laban Carrick Hill and beautifully illustrated by Bryan Collier. The story is a lyrical portrayal of how Dave, a slave, refused to be defined or limited by life’s circumstances. “To us it is just a pot…but to Dave it was a pot large enough to store a season’s grain harvest…to hold memories.” An appropriate book for ages 6-10, children will surely ...more
Title: Dave the Potter
Author:Laban Carrick Hill
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Theme(s): Slavery, Art
Opening line/sentence: To us it is just dirt the ground we walk on.
Brief Book Summary: This book depicts the artwork of a man named Dave. Dave was an extraordinary artist who made clay objects and sometimes writing poetry on them. The most extraordinary aspect about Dave is that he was a slave and created the artwork during his life as a slave.
Professional Recommendation/Review #1:
Marie F
Nov 15, 2015 Marie F rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlets
Probably more like a 3.5... Content was good, but I wasn't especially a fan of the format (poetry accompanied by notes). The images and text size should make it accessible, but the need to decode the verse (words are simple but much inference is needed) might not make it the best pick for any early reader if comprehension of the biographical information is the goal. It's an odd choice to write a biography in verse, but I tried to get behind the idea since it is the biography of a poet...

It almo
Apr 30, 2015 Jo rated it liked it
Dave was a slave who lived in the 1800s and created pottery, sometimes signing his pieces or scratching lines of poetry onto the finished product. This picture book imagines the process that Dave might go through in his daily life to complete one of his works.

An informational note is included at the back of the book that tells more of what historians know about Dave’s life — which is not all that much. His surviving poems are included with the original spellings and markings. Part of me wished t
Apr 21, 2015 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Text-to-Self Connection:
I would ask my students if this story reminded them of a time when they felt freedom in a certain thing, whether that is a hobby, sport, job, or volunteering opportunity. I would ask them if they felt as if they could relate to Dave in that way if they have felt that freedom before, especially in the parts of the story where Dave is creating a beautiful thing out of something everyone else sees as gritty and dirty.

Text-to-Text Connection:
I would ask my students if this
Apr 17, 2015 Becky rated it it was amazing
Multicultural picture book:
First off the illustrations by Bryan Collier are fantastic!! This is the story of the prolific potter Dave who lived and died as a slave in 19th century South Carolina. As you read the story you can almost feel the clay and see Dave’s hand move as he forms the pots. Hill uses easy solid verbs such as pulling, pinching, squeezing and pounding to really draw you into the story and help bring alive the movement of the potter. A lengthy author's note continues on the learn
Kayla Davis
This book is about Dave, a slave, who works as a potter. While Dave’s primary tool, that is, the dirt, seems insignificant to others, it is extremely valuable to Dave and ultimately provides him a living as well as a means to create. The book details the laborious process Dave goes through in order to sculpt and craft a large jar, which exposes Dave’s deep connection to the pieces he foresees in his mind’s eye and then brings to life. Later, the audience discovers that Dave is also skilled in re ...more
Alyssa Wilger
May 03, 2014 Alyssa Wilger rated it really liked it
Text-to-self: Throughout middle and high school, pottery was always my favorite part of art. There is something about molding and manipulating clay that make pottery very different from other art forms. Looking at the picture brings back wonderful memories of squishy cold clay between my fingers, the smooth wet clay on the wheel ready to be spun, and gooey dirty hands. While my feelings for pottery are not the same as Dave's, there is an understanding of appreciation as more the just dirt.
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Riley Hoffart 1 5 Dec 07, 2011 03:39PM  
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