A sensitive rendering of the conflict at the core of double consciousness.

AMERICA, MY LOVE, AMERICA, MY HEART

An unnamed narrator—or perhaps a collective narrator—with diverse cultural heritage seeks to know whether America loves them.

Front and back endpapers picture a United States flag with the Pledge of Allegiance printed in childlike handwriting. Within, gray-toned illustrations with accents of red, blue, and white depict people of color of all ages in outdoor and indoor settings: cities, fields and beaches, churches and schools. The text reads like a poem, narrated by a first-person voice who is, at first, unsure of their inclusion in the bold, brave United States. “Do you love me?” the voice asks its country. A series of questions addressed to “America,” some literal and some figurative, reveal an obsession with and a lack of confidence in the narrator’s relationship with their country, until at last the voice concludes that, despite all these questions, “America, I am you. / America, you are me.” The text incorporates occasional phrases in Louisiana Creole and in Spanish (both without translation), a choice that is explained in the author’s note as a reflection of her heritage. Through simple, poetic language and stark, symbolic imagery, Peoples-Riley delivers another powerful representation of the complex relationship between people of color and the country whose past and present call its love for some of its people into question. This book answers a deep fear about wholeness and belonging as it invites young readers to grow into its message.

A sensitive rendering of the conflict at the core of double consciousness. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-299329-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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