Bronzeville Boys and Girls is not as critical as Brooks’s other volumes of poetry for children because there is no moral preaching. The children in these poems respond simply to their environment in a natural manner. Life does not seem too cruel to them, even though poverty and sickness exist. Although most of the children are African American, in all but a few of these poems these boys and girls could be of any race or nationality. In “Jim,” the helpful little boy is caring for his mother because she is ill and needs medicine, broth, and cocoa. Like any little boy, he misses being able to play baseball, but he is sensitive to his mother’s needs and therefore puts her first.
Bronzeville boys and girls are real, honest, and inquisitive. One is struggling with being trapped in an urban environment in “Rudolph Is Tired of the City.” Another deals with having to do without, as the title “John, Who Is Poor” suggests. John is lonely because his father is dead, and his mother has to work all day. The speaker asks the children to share their treats and not ask questions about why John is hungry and when his hunger will end. The persona in “Michael Is Afraid of Storms” is typical of any child who wants the security of an adult when the thunder roars or the lightning pops. Brooks also captures reality in “Robert, Who Is Often a Stranger to Himself.” The child looks at his reflection in the mirror and wonders who he is. Just as...
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