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Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  5,338 ratings  ·  621 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 who lived 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
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,338 ratings  ·  621 reviews

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Start your review of Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
Again, this is an amazing story I have never heard before. I don’t know if I would have known this without reading these Caldecott books.

Dave was a slave and a potter, which was very very unusual. Slaves usually only did manual type labor and nothing skilled. Dave could also write which was illegal for them to do. There are pictures in the back of the book of pots that survived and all his poems in the back of the book. His pots were beautiful. He had true skill and gift at the art of pottery.

Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidstuff, biography
Bill O'Reilly, professional blowhard and wannabe historian, tells us that the slaves who built the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” I sure hope ole Bill doesn't find out about Dave the potter, or he'll undoubtedly try to convince us that some slaves were lucky because they got to learn a trade. That right, Bill. Those were some lucky, lucky slaves!

Despite his captive status, Dave did manage to turn dirt into gold. (
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
Dave Schaafsma
"I wonder where is all my relation
Friendship to all, and every nation"--Dave

"Dave belongs to Mr. Miles
Where the oven bake and the pot bile"--Dave

This is a non-fiction picture book with some interesting insights about slavery and art. A special exhibition of Dave the potter's pottery (with poetry written by him on some of the pots) was featured several years ago at the Kissick Museum, curated by Jill Koverman, and shared in I Made This Jar: The Life and Works of the Enslaved African American Pott
So yes, although I have certainly enjoyed reading in Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave how Dave is imagined by author Laban Carrick Hill creating and forming his distinctive pottery, and indeed how he, how Dave, is clearly and sweetly lyrically shown to obviously also achieve and receive very much personal fulfilment, pleasure and even joy from his art, I am sorry, but there is nevertheless just a certain something about Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave and in particular regarding Laban C ...more
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all potters and artists; American history buffs; those interested in art history
Recommended to Lisa (not getting friends updates) 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
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Most amazing of the Caldecott contenders for 2011. Biography, history, could also be used in art classes for pottery and for painting. How could this be the first I've heard of this?! It's not even as somber, relatively speaking, as most historical fiction; we can see by Dave's life that there is a way to achieve a feeling of satisfaction even in the midst of misery.

The paintings are beautiful, and the book design works to highlight all the wonder of the story and images. I really like that th
Jan 24, 2011 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
Nov 19, 2010 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
Karen Witzler
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. ...more
Mar 06, 2015 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.
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
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
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
Audience:K-2 Those interested in learning more about slavery or pottery.

Appeal:Great information about pottery. Beautiful pictures. As you examine the pictures you can see small details about slavery included in some pictures. Through a four-panel extended page you can see how a pot becomes a pot. In the back of the book you find biographical information about Dave and his poems as well as the Author's Note and Illustrator's Note.

2011 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner
Ms. B
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture, childrens, honor, 2011
Beautiful illustrations! This is the true story of Dave who was a poet, artist and slave in South Carolina in the 1800s.

Am I the only one who feel Bryan Collier deserves a Caldecott Award for his amazing watercolor/collage images?
This is a children's nonfiction picture book about a potter and poet who lived in South Carolina during the 1800s. This touched upon themes of slavery, pottery and poetry. I felt that the actual, shared research at the back of the was helpful to have a greater understanding for this book. ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Readers Interested in Pottery & Poetry and/or American Slavery
A poetic picture-book examination of the life and work of Dave, a potter, poet and slave in nineteenth-century South Carolina, Dave the Potter follows the story of the clay itself, from clouds of dust on the ground (?), through Dave's skilled hands, to its final form as a pot. A strong man who could throw sixty-pound pots, Dave was an artist and a writer, occasionally inscribing short poems - "I wonder where is all my relation / friendship to all - and, every nation" - on his creations, before t ...more
Joanna Marple
Feb 15, 2012 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
Adriana Villagomez
Jan 19, 2015 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
Jan 28, 2013 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, 184 ...more
Jun 07, 2014 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,
Nancy Kotkin
Text: 3 stars
Illustrations: 5 stars

There is not a single fact about Dave's life (other than his being a slave), or the time period, until the supplemental information at the back of the book. I realize there is a movement towards very sparse text in picture books, but that can't really apply to nonfiction and biography, because we really need some information within the text for those books to work. In this case, how did Dave learn to read and write (since that was illegal for slaves and often p
Sep 08, 2010 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 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 10, 2012 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
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
Jun 24, 2012 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
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I found this book on A Coretta Scott King Award. This poem portrays the history of a man named Dave in South Carolina as well as how he discovers his talent of potter skill. The story provides different perspective of how Dave sees dirt, mud, and pot as hope and friendship to all. The watercolor on every page shows the landscape and architecture of a South Carolina farm. Dave does not show much facial expression at the beginning of the story which allow students to implement their higher order t ...more
Apr 26, 2016 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
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Riley Hoffart 1 7 Dec 07, 2011 03:39PM  

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