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The people remember
2021
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Publishers Weekly Review
In her picture book debut, Zoboi employs magnetic, allusive free verse to describe the course of history as experienced by members of the African diaspora and enslaved African peoples. Simultaneously, the title demonstrates the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the seven-day African American holiday observance running from Christmas Day to New Year's, through historical moments and movements and great Black literary voices, such as the beginnings of Motown music, the civil rights movement, and the work of Alice Walker, respectively. Zoboi's lyrical verse ("While telling stories under the star-speckled sky/ about memories of the ancestors/ watching from way up high") is further strengthened by Wise's eye-catching digital illustrations, composed of lushly colored images realistic and fantastical, historical and contemporary, and painted with spectacular vibrance to portray the experience of African and African American people throughout time. A rich resource ideal for Kwanzaa and beyond. Back matter includes an author's note, glossary, detailed timeline, and further reading resources. Ages 4--8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 3--A primer on the principles of Kwanzaa and an examination of the tenacious spirit of the formerly enslaved African people. Stolen African people from different cultures were forced to build uncommon bonds to survive the transatlantic slave trade. That they survived being separated from their land, culture, and personhood was nothing short of a miracle. Zoboi's gorgeous prose illuminates all of the ways Black people attempted to reclaim their rights as American citizens. They were often thwarted by a corrupt system bent on consuming African culture without respecting the people who created it. Zoboi creates a colorful time line that covers the horrors of lynching, the great migration, white uprisings, hip hop music, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Along the way, the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, which were first introduced in 1966, are celebrated. Wise's illustrations highlight the beauty of African American culture. Their color palette takes readers on an emotional journey that is also a brilliant blend of poetry, African, and African American history. Zoboi skillfully weaves together the narratives of enslaved Africans into a wonderful tapestry that is honest and beautiful. VERDICT Perfect for school and public libraries, this must-have offering celebrates African American cultural identity should be included in all collections.--Desiree Thomas, Worthington Lib., OH
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