A moving poem broadens its potential impact with evocative, dreamlike illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Diaz.
Written for Barack Obama’s inauguration, Alexander’s poem uses sophisticated language and images both abstract and concrete to celebrate the diversity of the world we live in, the history that brought us to the day our first African-American president was sworn in and the hope that event inspired. The rhythmic language begins in the present, describing everyday activities. From there Alexander takes us to “dirt roads and highways” that lead both back in time to show the work and struggle that went into creating our world and forward into the hopeful future. Diaz finds ways to both reflect and explicate the complexity of Alexander’s work. His illustrations, focused primarily on a mother and child, create a sense of connection and should help to make the poem accessible to young listeners. By contrast, several double-page montages allow him to include multiple characters and situations in a single composition. Jewel-like colors, intricate patterns and the shifting intensity of light and dark combine beautifully to bring depth and texture to simple silhouettes of people, places and things.
Even listeners who aren’t quite sure what some of the words mean will enjoy listening to their soothing, sonorous flow and poring over the pictures to find vivid glimpses of their own and others’ lives and dreams. (Picture book. 6 & up)