Two accomplished creators invite Black children to take up their spaces in the world.
Charles’ lyrical text addresses “you, dear child,” in the voice of a loving caregiver, recounting how the world anticipated and prepared for the child’s existence. The child was “dreamed of, / like a knapsack / full of wishes / carried on the backs / of your ancestors,” who worked and built, “because to them, / you always mattered.” The word “matter” is used in both ways: as a noun, as the child is made up of the same stuff that makes up the universe, and as a verb, because “strength, power and beauty / lie within,” even though the world will sometimes make the child question whether “they, / or you, / will ever matter.” The universe made room for “you, / your people, / their dreams, / your future,” Charles assures the child. The protesters (“take a breath, / take a stand, / take a knee”) and victims of racist violence (“Trayvon, / Tamir, / Philando”) are mentioned explicitly without becoming the focus; the journey from beginning to end of the book sends a message that is nurturing, nourishing, loving, and reassuring, expanding and deepening the words of the movement it echoes. Collier’s trademark paint-and-collage illustrations use petal shapes with patterns and faces, blue and brown hues, and family scenes and close-ups to embody the child’s growth within affectionate circles of family, community, and universe.
A gem for every household.(author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-10)