Life Doesn't Frighten Me

LONGLISTED FOR THE NORTH SOMERSET TEACHERS' BOOK AWARD POETRY CATEGORY

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Shadows on the wall

Noises down the hall

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ is a strikingly illustrated version of Maya Angelou’s poem which celebrates courage and faith and ultimately, fearlessness. The poem shows strength and bravery in the face of scary thoughts and unsettling scenarios, some of which are conjured up by the imagination, but others are faced by the writer day after day. Busquiat’s illustrations are bold and vibrant. Their child-like style perfectly captures the mood of the poem and lets the reader imagine the words through a child’s eyes.

This is the perfect poem to explore with a class. There is clear rhyme used to create emphasis as well as rhythm that ebbs and flows. In addition, alliteration is used in place to draw focus, alongside carefully selected vocabulary. Children will be able to create their own versions using real scenarios, as well as their imagination, to face up to their own fears, to be defiant and to display their courage.

The biography section of the book is also incredibly interesting. Maya Angelou was a personality well worth exploring. She fought for equality: equality as a woman; equality as an African-American. While still at school, she fought for a job and became the first African-American ‘conductorette’ on San Francisco’s street cars. Throughout her life she fought for human rights, including those of women and African-Americans.

“Her advice to writers, to everyone, is to read as much as possible, be it African-American, European, Latin, or other literature – but, especially Shakespeare.”

This is an inspirational poem by an inspirational writer.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me  by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc   ISBN:  978-1556702884