Black girls everywhere, this collection is salve and sanctuary.

LEGACY

WOMEN POETS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE

Grimes’ new collection of poems weaves a contemporary Black feminist impulse while recovering the underappreciated contributions of Harlem Renaissance women poets.

Winner of both the Children’s Literature Legacy Award and the ALAN Award, Grimes continues to deliver distinctively situated, heart-filled offerings that tie together generations of Black artistic excellence aimed at incubating positive social change. Here her focus turns toward less-well-known women poets of the early 20th century, women like Georgia Douglas Johnson, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Gwendolyn Bennett, Mae V. Cowdery, Anne Spencer, Effie Lee Newsome, Esther Popel, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. To their poems included here, Grimes adds her own. These are done in the form of the Golden Shovel, invented by poet Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, and they brilliantly resample the words of the women’s works. All, both collected and Grimes’, decidedly emerge from the experiences and worldviews of Black women and girls. They emphasize an ethos of care for oneself, one’s communities, and the Earth together for the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. Accompanying them are contributions from an all-star cast of Black women illustrators, empowering artworks that could be at home in a museum. This book is exquisitely rendered. After more than 77 books, Grimes remains as inspired as ever, drawing on the historic strength of Black women’s brilliance to give a timely, healing mirror to a new generation of readers. The ancestors are proud.

Black girls everywhere, this collection is salve and sanctuary. (author biographies, illustrator biographies) (Poetry. 9-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68119-944-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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