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The Women Who Caught The Babies
The Women Who Caught The Babies

The Women Who Caught The Babies

A Story of African American Midwives

By Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by Daniel Minter



32 Pages, 8.5 x 11

Formats: Hardcover Picture Book

Hardcover Picture Book, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: September 2019

ISBN 9780997772074

Rights: WOR

Alazar Press (Sep 2019)

Price: $17.95


An emotional history of African American midwifery, told in prose and poems

The Women Who Caught the Babies highlights important aspects of the training and work of African American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by "catching" their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield's poetry and Daniel Minter's art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African American midwifes over the course of time. The poem, "Africa to America," begins the poetic journey. The poem, "The Women," both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude to these women. The poem that ends the book is "Miss Rovenia Mayo," who was the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.


"The press announced the September 2019 release of The Women Who Caught the Babies by Eloise Greenfield with artwork by Daniel Minter." — Alazar Press

"This unique picture book begins with historic background on the work of midwives, written in prose that is accessible to young readers and accompanied by archival photographs. The book then switches to poetry and stunningly beautiful illustrations—with vignettes from lives of midwives during slavery, emancipation, and today." — Deborah Menkart, Social Justice Books

"The Women Who Caught The Babies is a Masterpiece of Art and Writing! It deserves RESOUNDING Praise and Awards!" — Ashley Bryan. Among Ashley's awards are the John Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the New York Public Library's Literary Lions award.

"… the verses capture the powerful, loving, and unwavering work of these women, who guided humans into the world "with gentle, loving hands." The verses are accompanied by Minter's dramatic portraits … of women and babies … filled with symbolic patterns and images." — Julie Danielson, "Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast"

"This poetic tale chronicles the presence and contributions of African American midwives. Rites of passage incandescently brought to light." — Vicky Smith, Kirkus Reviews

"Informed by his own birth, Minter illustrates book about midwives 'The Women Who Caught the Babies' is a series of connected poems by Eloise Greenfield about midwives and their role in African-American culture. Portland artist Daniel Minter's latest project is personal. Minter has illustrated a new children's book by the esteemed African-American children's book author and poet Eloise Greenfield, 'The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives.' Minter was born at home in Ellaville, a rural community in west-central Georgia in what he describes as a long and difficult birth. 'It was the midwife who caught me, even after I managed to get mixed up and come feet first,' he wrote on Facebook. The book is due out in September. 'In those rural areas, you just did not have access to a hospital, for one thing,' Minter said in an interview. 'And if there was one, hospitals didn't accept black patients until recently. You didn't have that as an easy option, so you had midwives.' 'The Women Who Caught the Babies' tells about the training and work of African-American midwives and their roles in promoting maternal and infant health. Greenfield, 90, is a contemporary of Maine artist and illustrator Ashley Bryan of Little Cranberry Island, and a widely honored writer. She is a member of the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and last year received the Coretta Scot King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Minter has illustrated dozens of children books, and his art is collected by museums across the country. 'The Women Who Caught the Babies' will be his third book in the past year. Last fall, he illustrated 'So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom' by Gary D. Schmidt, and his collaboration with author Kelly Starling Lyons, 'Going Down Home with Daddy,' came out in April. For the book about midwifery, Greenfield wrote a series of connected poems about midwives through time, in Africa, after arriving in North America and after emancipation. Minter illustrates the poems with stylistic portrayals of women in attendant repose – dutiful and calm, strong and wise. Many of the illustrations in the book are recent paintings that fit the theme. The rest he made specifically for Greenfield's poems. The sense and presence of water as the source of life is prevalent throughout the illustrations. Minter remembers the midwives who attended to his birth, Mrs. Vera and Mrs. Ethel, as respected and valued members of Ellaville. His illustrations reflect his reverence for and appreciation of them and for midwives across time and continents. 'We would be really disconnecting ourselves from our own creation if we did not have midwives,' he said." — Bob Keyes, Staff Writer, Portland Press Herald

"This moving nonfiction illustrated book, written in verse, illuminates the work and stories of African American midwives. It's empowering to understand their role in shaping generations, even as they were forced into slavery. A bibliography and photographs underscore Minter's powerful artwork." — Ryan Mita, Children's Book Council

"Renowned children's book author Eloise Greenfield opens her latest title with a note to readers: "I want to take you back only as far as the Africa of a few hundred years ago. That's when millions of Africans were forced from their homelands, brought to America, and enslaved. Some of the enslaved were midwives." This unique picture book begins with historic background on the work of midwives, written in prose that is accessible to young readers and accompanied by archival photographs. The book then switches to poetry and stunningly beautiful illustrations — with vignettes from lives of midwives during slavery, emancipation, and today. Greenfield closes with a poem about the midwife who "caught" her when she was born, Miss Rovenia Mayo of Parmele, North Carolina." — Rethinking Schools Magazine

Author Biography

With many award-winning books to her credit, Eloise Greenfield has achieved her status among the most celebrated of children's authors. Multiple lifetime achievement awards include a Living Legacy Award, a Hope S. Dean Award, an NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children among others. She has been inducted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. Africa Dream received the Coretta Scott King Award while the Coretta Scott King Author Honor and an ALA 2012 Notable Children's book honored her title, The Great Migration: Journey to the North. She received the Carter G. Woodson Award for Rosa Parks. For Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems, she received the 1990 Recognition of Merit Award, presented by the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books. She received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award for Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir, written with her mother, Lessie Jones Little. In 2013, Eloise Greenfield was one of twenty African American women who received the Living Legacy Award from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). These are just some of Eloise Greenfield's many awards.Daniel Minter is a painter and illustrator. His paintings, carvings, block prints and sculptures have been exhibited both nationally and internationally at galleries and museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Bates College, Hammonds House Museum, Northwest African American Art Museum, Museu Jorge Amado and the Meridian International Center. Minter is the co-founder and creative visionary of the Portland Freedom Trail and serves on the board of The Ashley Bryan Center, The Illustration Institute and teaches at the Maine College of Art. He serves as board chair of The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations. Minter has illustrated 11 children's books, including Step Right Up; How Doc, and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness,and Ellen's Broom which won a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor; Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, winner of a Best Book Award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio; and The Riches of Oseola McCarty, named an Honor Book by the Carter G. Woodson Awards. He was commissioned in both 2004 and 2011 to create Kwanzaa stamps for the U.S. Postal Service.