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STANDING IN THE NEED OF PRAYER by Carole Boston Weatherford Kirkus Star


A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual

by Carole Boston Weatherford ; illustrated by Frank Morrison

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-30634-5
Publisher: Crown

Weatherford infuses the lyrics of a traditional spiritual with pivotal events in African American history.

In four-line stanzas, references to the unseen narrator (“It’s me, it’s me, O Lord”), the ancestors, and present-day children alternate with the line “Standing in the need of prayer.” From “families enslaved and sold apart,” “a band of rebels,” and “freedmen seeking kin at Emancipation” to Black students integrating all-White schools, athletes breaking records, and choirs singing of justice and freedom, African Americans from across the eras and generations are humbled before God as they face mighty obstacles with brave resistance and endurance. Readers don’t need to know the song to enjoy this book; the repeated lines have the power of an incantation, inducing a meditation on all that Black people have survived and how they have thrived. Morrison’s elegant, emotional, painterly illustrations highlight the beauty, dignity, and grace of the people throughout difficult and degrading circumstances. Rich earth tones, texture, and light invite the eye to linger on the varied, portrait-style compositions. Not just for faithful homes, this is a book that can spark conversations about Black history from a strengths-based lens, with culture and coping as the focus. Brief notes discuss the figures and topics referenced in the main text, and an author’s note explains the importance of spirituals to the culture and to Weatherford personally. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gorgeous and enlightening, nourishing both mind and soul.

(online resources) (Historical picture book. 4-10)