Wonder why this poet and these words seem so familiar? Readers may have caught her on PBS’ “Brief but Spectacular” video series reciting it with the velocity and verve it richly deserves.
This book feels like the keepsake one gives to all the black girls and women in one’s life who missed the clip. And, much like a lot of spoken-word poetry, it is better recited out loud than read silently on the page. Yet in this rich historical moment in which black women are loudly and proudly claiming more and diversified ownership of their works and the media itself, this is as much a document of that moment as it is an emerging, beloved tome for black girls of all ages to read and share in classrooms and conferences, over brunch, on a lazy Sunday in autumn, or whenever or wherever one needs an assuring word. The illustrator’s work adds a sweet—if not a little messy—handmade quality to the book, as if each copy has been crafted as a personal gift, complete with a monotone woodcut look to the depiction of one of the most intimate aspects of black womanhood, hair-braiding. Set in uppercase type that emulates hand-lettering, key words and phrases are picked out in red or ocher type, complementing the spare highlights in the black-on-cream palette.
The most optimal way to enjoy this book is reading along with the author’s PBS video—that synergy makes this small book sing. (Picture book. 6-adult)