Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Humans

Title:  Little Humans
Author:  Brandon Stanton
Publication Information:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2014. 40 pages.
ISBN:  0374374562 / 978-0374374563

Book Source:  I read this book because I love Brandon Stanton's work! I have followed the project for a while and was looking forward to this book.

Favorite Quote:  "Little humans can be tough ... super HERO tough!"

Little Humans is a picture book with the quality of images expected from the Humans of New York (HONY) project but targeted for a picture book audience. As such, it does not have the narratives associated with each picture or the depth associated with the daily blog postings. If that is what you are expecting, you may be disappointed. If you take this book for what it's intended to be, it is delightful picture book with beautiful, diverse portraits and a positive message for children.

HONY creator Brandon Stanton was not a photographer. He got his first camera in January 2010 while he lived and worked in Chicago. In July 2010, he lost his job. Over the next couple of months, he slowly travelled from Chicago to New York, taking pictures all the way. Upon his arrival in New York, his thoughts were, "What struck me most were the people. There were tons of them. And they all seemed to be in a hurry."

Over that summer, he took over 600 portraits in the city. His intent was to create a photographic census of New York City. The plan was to take 10,000 portraits and plot them on a map of the city.

He had a blog and some visibility. A friend, then, introduced him to the power of social media, creating a Facebook page. This was followed shortly by a Tumblr blog.

The project then expanded to include interviews and short statement from the person/people pictured. In a Mashable interview, Brandon Stanton had this to say about the progression: "It went from photography to pictures of people; from pictures of people to portraits of people; from portraits of people to captions with the photograph. It went from captions to stories to where it is, fully formed, today — which is these very deep interactions with strangers on the streets." ("The Human Behind 'Humans of the New York," October 2013)

With the power of social media, the project has gone viral. As of today, the Facebook page has almost 11 million followers! This number stood at 8.3 millions in October 2013. In December 2013, Time Magazine named Brandon Stanton to the list of 30 Under 30 People Changing The World. In fall 2014, he was part of a 50 day tour in partnership with the United Nations. He captured and shared images from many countries including Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, and Mexico.

The project is being incorporated into teaching curriculums. It has also spurred many many similar projects all over the world, from San Francisco to Sydney, from Pakistan to the Fiji Islands. A project has even begun around the fictional world of George R R Martin's Game of Thrones series.

What amazes me about the overall project is:
  • The diversity that the project encompasses - race, religion, age, economics, and along every other line.
  • The very personal nature of the portraits and stories - Many of the stories that accompany the portraits on the blog are intensely personal. What is it about this storyteller and about this project that enables people to share the information? This book does not include these stories, but that is not the intent of the book.
  • The viral growth of the project - over 11 million followers in a few of years and thousands of comments on every Facebook post.
When the first book Humans of New York came out, I instantly picked it up and loved it. It has everything expected from the blog. I looked forward to this book coming out.

This is a picture book with the same quality of images. It brings the images into a context appropriate for a picture book audience. This book includes a diverse set of images. However, instead of a story behind each picture, it includes an original picture book narrative - all about the joys and concerns of being a child who may be little now but who can do big things.

As with the project as a whole, I love the diversity represented in this book - something particularly difficult to find in picture books. I love that underlying that diversity of race, culture, religion and interests is the commonality that children are children the world over. They want to be loved. They want to play. They want to be seen for the unique individuals that they are. They are full of joy sometimes in the most adverse of circumstances. What a delight to find that in a book for children.

This book does a beautiful job of capturing both the diversity and the universality of childhood in a way that is easy to share to with children. I cannot wait to see what this project brings next!

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment