Summer Sun Risin’

Author: W. Nikola-Lisa

Illustrator: Don Tate

Published: April 2002

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Experience a day in the life of a 1950s farm family. Wake to a beautiful sunrise as Ma prepares eggs and fritters for breakfast. Sweat as the family tends to chores under the hot Texas sunshine, then relax as Pa reads bedtime stories at sunset.


The National Christian School Association has selected Summer Sun Risin’ as a 2004-2005 Children’s Crown Gallery Award nominee

Bank Street College of Education has selected Summer Sun Risin’ as part of their list of The Best Children’s Books of the Year (2002).

“. . . bright, stylized illustrations that inspire a virtual sweat as readers follow the family through their chores and feel their tired satisfaction at the end of the day. The rhythmic verses beg to be read aloud, and the colors and typeface are bold enough for group sharing. A cheery introduction to farm life and simple poetry.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“Tate’s stylized full-bleed paintings, shown to advantage in the book’s horizontal (10″ x 8 1/2″) format, exaggerate the expansiveness of the plains by rendering the horizon as a gentle but unmistakable arc. It’s as if the farm were hugging the edge of a globe, the earth as round to the narrator’s eye as the constantly visible sun. The characters’ highly sculpted faces suggest the contours of the land, and their expressions radiate confidence and satisfaction.”

-Publishers Weekly

“The illustrations, oil and acrylic on textured paper, are stylized and curved to reflect the lay of the land. A Texas farm served as the model for this book, expansively depicted on the double-page spreads. This is a nicely designed book, from its endpapers (saffron at the beginning, cobalt at the end) to its simple, homespun typeface. It truly conjures up a lovely summer’s day on a farm, and can be used during storytimes or as a cozy, one-on-one bedtime story.”

-School Library Journal

“The cheerful young narrator tells us about a fine summer’s day on hard-working farm where everyone is busy from sunup to a quiet sunset.”

-The New York Times

“Tender, evocative poetry exuberantly chronicles a busy day on a farm in this lovely book that toasts African Americans’ role in our nation’s farming community. Austinite Don Tate based his warm, expansive illustrations on an Austin farm. Kids ages 3-6 will treasure spending sunup to sunset on the farm with their young host.”

-Austin American Statesman

“From one of the country’s best multicultural publishers comes this simple tribute to African American farmers. Don Tate’s colorful, folk-art inspired illustratons lovingly embrace the concept through the smiling black faces, serene landscapes and fluid lines.”

-The Midwest Book Review

“Summer Sun Risin’ is a song of praise to the wonderful ordinariness of a day. The illustrations are stylized and bright; they add important details about the life on the farm that delight the eye and contribute to the text’s details. The horizon is always rounded, and the reader is always aware of the position of the sun as it tends its rounds. The poetic text would make for a wonderful read aloud, but the book also has a quietness about it that would work well for individual readers.”

-Library Materials Guide, Christian Schools International

“Summer Sun Risin’ is a lively picture book that captures the sights, sounds and activities of an African-American boy’s day on his parent’s farm. Author W. Nikola-Lisa manages to cover a lot of ground in a small amount of space. Illustrator Don Tate pushes beyond Nikola-Lisa’s verbal guidelines by including visual grace notes that add dimension to the characters.”

-Black Issues Book Review