In this collection, poet Giovanni seeks to remind black children especially that they are loved.
Giovanni carries the weight of the love that has sustained generations and united communities to her poems with amazing, succinct elegance. Standouts include “I Am a Mirror,” opposite which Bryan centers a real inset mirror against a colorful background of vibrant shapes amid natural landscapes. “I reflect the strengths / Of my people / And for that alone / I am loved,” concludes Giovanni’s ode to black ancestry and intergenerational resilience. “No Heaven” takes another heartwarming approach sure to incite genuine embraces among readers. “How can there be / No Heaven / When tears comfort / When dreams caress / When you smile / at me.” Recalling her earlier collection Hip Hop Speaks to Children (2008, illustrated by Kristen Balouch), Giovanni ends with the playful and reflective “Do the Rosa Parks,” a rhythmic and moving song about the power of sitting down to stand up. Outkast vibes run through it, though some readers may wish for an instructional cue. Throughout, Bryan’s bright tempera and watercolor paintings offer readers harmonious forms and flowing lines, smiling black children and adults arranged as if in tropically colored stained-glass windows. The two masters together deliver another powerful addition to their separate, award-winning catalogs.
A small but mighty collection sure to remind readers that love, again, can prevail over all if given the chance. (Picture book/poetry. 4-9)