November 16, 2016


Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer, written by Heather Henson and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier, tells the real life story of Stephen Bishop, a slave who guided people through the deepest cave in the United States during the ​late 1830s ​to the late 1850s.

A video posted by Mel Schuit (@spiky_penelope) on

The illustrations are watercolor and collage, but they're so well defined and detailed that each piece stands out on its own. Collier does such a beautiful job with highlights, carrying the motif of light across the spreads as Stephen guides people. We see Stephen's face highlighted by the light he carries, immediately drawing our eyes to him on every page as he moves forward. The collage aspect also feels very genuine, drawing attention to the multi-faceted life this man led: he was a slave, but he was also a leader, someone who showed people a deeper meaning to the world around them.

When Stephen Bishop guides people through the tunnels he doesn't feel like a slave, he feels like a pioneer. And we see this in the illustrations. Stephen leads us through the book, drawing us in deeper as we move from the left side of the book to the right, deeper into the cave and ever more reliant on Stephen and his light to get to the other side.

The text is beautiful and poetic, not to mention fascinating. This is the story of a man who overcame his circumstances and taught himself to read and write, becoming renowned worldwide for his intelligence and eloquence as he lead people through the tunnels. I'm proud to know Stephen Bishop's story, and I highly recommend taking a closer look at this book if you have the chance.

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