An uplifting story that rightfully asserts the multidimensionality of Black identity.

A HISTORY OF ME

An empowering picture book seeks to instill pride in the descendants of enslaved people.

A dark-skinned young girl is the only brown person in her class. When her teacher talks about slavery, she feels ashamed and scrutinized by her peers. After a lesson about civil rights, some kids on the school playground whisper behind her back, and one boy even makes a racist comment. Feeling like she has been reduced to her race (“Is that all you see when you look at me?"), the girl finds perspective and strength in the stories her mother has told her about their female ancestors. Recalling that she has privileges and opportunities her foremothers didn’t have reminds the girl to be grateful. The narrative skips forward in time as the girl grows up and has a daughter who also finds herself the only brown-skinned child in her class. Now a woman, the protagonist teaches her daughter how to break out of the boxes that people put her in and exhorts her to “sit up straight / and / fly high into the sky.” A double-page spread shows a proud Black girl holding her fists in the air, braids flying outward, with her face skyward and a dazzling sunburst behind her. This emotionally honest look at the challenges of processing historical injustice and racial trauma provides a much-needed mirror for Black students, but anyone who has ever felt trapped by other people’s definitions of who they are can relate to the story on some level. Robinson’s digital illustrations exude a gentle dignity.

An uplifting story that rightfully asserts the multidimensionality of Black identity. (author's note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4257-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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