New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, (1992). Oblong volume, measuring 9 x 11 inches: . Original glossy color pictorial boards, original unclipped color pictorial dust jacket with Caldecott Honor Medal, orange endpapers. Color illustrations on every page. Inscribed “for Marvin” and signed by Sherley Anne Williams and Carole Byard on title page.
First edition, third printing, of this award-winning account of a day in the life of a family of migrant farm workers, inscribed by author Sherley Anne Williams and illustrator Carole Byard. Arriving by bus at the cotton fields, speaking “in smoky whispers” before the sun rises, the young narrator explains the rhythms of the work: “I’m a big girl now. Not big enough to have my own sack, just only to help pile cotton in the middle of the row for Mamma to put in hers.” Carole Byard’s vibrant paintings capture the beauty of the fields, from dawn to dusk, and the intensity of the family’s labor and bond. The daughter of migrant workers in the California cotton fields, the prodigiously talented Williams achieved fame as a poet, novelist, playwright, critic, and performer before her untimely death from cancer at the age of 54. Working Cotton, her first book for children, received both Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honors in 1993. This early jacket notes both awards on the front flap, and has the Caldecott Honor Medal affixed. A fine copy of a remarkable book, scarce signed by Williams and illustrator Byard.