Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WHO WILL I BE, LORD?  by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson


by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & illustrated by Sean Qualls

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84342-6
Publisher: Random House

In this substantive yet never heavy offering, an African-American girl reflects on the people in her family, wondering, after lovingly considering each: “And what will I be, Lord? What will I be?” First she thinks of her great-grandfather, a mailman during the week and a banjo player on the weekends. Next she thinks of Great-Grandma, who made the “best cakes in the county” and who was white. Her family disowned her for marrying Great Grandpap. Grandpa is a preacher at Bethel A.M.E. Church. Grandma, a teacher, gets upset when the girl says she does not like school and “starts tellin’ her old stories about slavery, when people were whipped or killed for learning to read.” Uncle is a pool shark, cousin a jazzman, Papa a carman, and Mama “is a mama.” Thanks to a strong sense of family and history, the girl comes to understand that what she is, who she is, is ultimately up to her. Quall’s lovely, textured illustrations depict realistic figures against backgrounds suffused with blues and purples. (Picture book. 5-10)