Lift Your Light a Little Higher by Heather Henson, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Published by Atheneum

 

Summary:  Stephen Bishop invites you to join him on a tour of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave.  Born a slave, Bishop was trained as a tour guide for this huge cave system (the longest in the world) that was on his master’s plantation.  Although other slaves also guided visitors, Stephen became the most famous.  He discovered new animals and forged new paths through the caves.  He shows visitors his name on the cave wall, written along with his wife’s and many other visitors’, with the smoke from a candle tied to a long stick.  Little is known of Stephen Bishop’s life, which ended at the age of 37.  He is buried not far from the entrance to Mammoth Cave.  Author’s and illustrator’s notes at the end give more information about Bishop and how this book was created.  32 pages; grades 1-4.

Pros:  The lyrical text and beautiful illustrations by Bryan Collier bring this little-known man to life, along with the caves he loved and studied for many years.  Since so little is known about him, this isn’t really a biography, but more an imagined meditation on slavery, race, and life.

Cons:  Read the author’s note first, or the story will be hard to understand.

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