A new mother describes her dreams for her son, her hopes for his future, and her prayers for his safety.
The book opens with the mother, a black woman, cradling her newborn and looking ahead to his future. She imagines holding his hand as he learns to walk, reading to him, and teaching him the golden rule. But as her son grows, she knows he will move away from her protection and face the dangers of the wider world, and so her words shift to prayers for her son’s future. She asks God to hold her son in his hands, a metaphor reflected in the cover illustration with huge, protective hands above and below the figure of a solemn little black boy. The moving, poetic text captures the mother’s fears for her son while framing her thoughts in a hopeful way, countering worries with positive outcomes. As the prayers move to a conclusion, she prays that her son will avoid perils and grow up to raise his own sons and grandsons. She adds to her prayer the profound words: “Black lives matter. Your life matters.” Her heartfelt words will appeal to adults even as they offer both love and reassurance for children and a way to explore some difficult social issues. Pinkney’s striking, loose illustrations in watercolor and gouache use a palette of pastel greens and blues, with swirling strokes of ink indicating movement or change.
Insightful, poignant, groundbreaking—and a reminder that the lives of all children are also in our hands. (Picture book/religion. 5-adult)