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by Stacey Abrams ; illustrated by Kitt Thomas

Pub Date: Dec. 28th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-320947-3
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Before Stacey Abrams became today’s leading voting rights activist and the first Black woman in American history to become a gubernatorial candidate, she was a spelling bee hopeful.

Stacey is a kid who understands the power of language. Ushered from infancy into the world of books by her librarian mother, she is a devoted student of the dictionary and a diligent young linguist in her own right, squirreling away words in a dedicated notebook. Quiet and awkward, she finds refuge and clarity in reading and writing. When she is nominated by her second grade teacher, Mrs. Blakeslee, to participate in the school spelling bee, Stacey is thrilled. However there is one problem—she will be competing alongside Jake, the class bully, whom she has always shrunk from; but, “perhaps at this spelling bee she would be braver.” Readers follow Stacey as she painstakingly prepares, steps onto the competition stage—not once, but many times—and ultimately finds her voice with the loving support of her wise momma. The text is well turned, delivering both emotional resonance and compelling, albeit unromanticized, messages about the value of perseverance and the importance of speaking up for what is right. Thomas’ bold, vibrant digital illustrations use spotlights as a motif, subtly foreshadowing young Stacey’s future as a public speaker, and excel at depicting multiple scenes on the same page to create a sense of parallel action. Jake is White, and several illustrations include diverse representation.

This engaging, edifying, delightfully nerdy childhood retrospective from one of today’s inspirational leaders speaks volumes.

(Picture book autobiography. 4-8)