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THE TALK by Alicia D. Williams Kirkus Star


by Alicia D. Williams ; illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-5344-9529-6
Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

As Jay moves from childhood to preadolescence, loving adults prepare him for what that means for him as a Black boy.

Jay, who loves superheroes and racing his friends, is thrilled that he’s grown two inches—he’s no longer a “shrimp.” But Mom hugs him sadly, looking over his head at the news, and says, “They won’t see you as a young boy anymore, either.” And when Jay and his friends skateboard up the street, they get indignant looks from White passersby. Grandpa tells them not to gather in groups of four or more, Mom instructs Jay how to behave in stores, and Dad tells him how to act when pulled over by police. When Jay starts to leave the house in his hoodie and earphones, his parents call him back in for a talk, depicted in a wordless spread of shadowy vignettes showing scenes of the struggles young Black people face—being stopped by police or treated with hostility by White people. After, Jay’s parents and grandparents envelop him in a loving embrace, assuring him that he has done nothing wrong. Williams’ narration is shaped by a convincing, youthful first-person voice, and Uchendu’s powerful art conveys both the joyful energy of childhood and the pain of adults who can’t shield children from a racist world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A loving approach to sharing painful realities with children, this book strikes a chord.

(Picture book. 5-10)