No Sentimental cooing, please: beginning with Martin Munkácsi's fabulous cover image of three black children running on a beach (the photo that first made painter Henri Cartier-Bresson pick up a camera), the historic and modern images in Ray Merritt's Full of Grace: A Journey Through the History of Childhood (Cygnet Foundation) are so dazzlingly elegant, elegiac, moving, and exhilarating that mushy responses are simply out of the question. From Lewis Carroll's artfully posed, wary innocents to child welfare activist Lewis Hine's exhausted young factory workers ("Perhaps you are weary of child labor pictures," Hine wrote. "Well, so are the rest of us") to Sally Mann's self-revealing daughters, this is childhood seen through the clear lens of curiosity, filtered with compassion and respect. As philanthropist-connoisseur Merritt, who will donate the book's net proceeds to UNICEF, puts it, "Old men can make war, but it is children who will make history."
— Cathleen Medwick
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013