In this rhyming picture book, black parents tell their sons how to behave if approached by a police officer.
A young black child is distressed by the news that police have shot another man. “They say he had a little girl, / Bet she misses him a lot,” says the worried boy. His brother is upset, too, about other shootings: “One boy was eating skittles. / Dad, I like to eat them too!” The boys’ father decides it’s time for “THE TALK”—one that will be sadly familiar to many parents of color. To be safe around police, the parents say, one must remember the acronym “ALIVE”: “ALWAYS USE YOUR MANNERS!,” “LISTEN AND COMPLY!,” “Stay IN CONTROL of your emotions!,” “VISIBLE hands at ALL times!,” and “EXPLAIN any movement!” The parents remind their sons that, although it’s natural to be angry and sad, it’s not right to blame all officers for the behavior of some. In her debut book, Gragg (Daddy, Did You Hear the News?, 2018) offers straightforward, useful, and easily remembered guidelines, though the fact that they’re needed is wrenching. Nearly all picture books about police only emphasize their trustworthiness, so Gragg fills a crucial gap in the literature while depicting remarkably evenhanded emotions. Holt’s illustrations depict the loving family well and show diverse characters, including a black officer.
A heartbreakingly necessary work.