Author: Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
Tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Ultimately, all these people had to learn one common language and create a culture that combined their memories of home with new traditions that enabled them to thrive in this new land.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (11/01/21)
Booklist (+) (09/15/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/15/2021 *Starred Review* Poignantly tying African American history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Zoboi’s picture-book debut is a beautifully rendered exploration of the holiday. In lyrical verses with a smoothly rolling, sonorous quality, Zoboi moves through centuries, beginning in West Africa and the onset of the transatlantic slave trade and continuing through key moments in U.S. history (emancipation, the Great Migration, the civil rights movement) and highlighting cultural touchstones (soul music, hip-hop, poets and authors) on the way to the election of Barack Obama and continuing calls for justice today. Throughout, Zoboi artfully groups these moments together to illustrate each of the seven pillars, explaining both the symbolism of the holiday and its importance to the culture. Wise’s warm, full-bleed artwork in saturated, splashy colors incorporates majestic portraits, meaningful design elements, and superb compositions to accompany Zoboi’s verses, and even though they don’t avoid the painful realities of Black history in the U.S., the overall tone is one of strength, power, and joy. Zoboi’s poem is a master class in conciseness, expertly evoking powerful images, concepts, and emotions out of just a handful of words, particularly when paired with Wise’s exultant art, and the robust back matter offers even more context and nuance. A must-have for holiday collections, but let its light shine throughout the rest of the year, too. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2021 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 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 were first introduced in 1966, are celebrated. Wise's illustrations highlight the beauty of African American culture. Her 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 - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.