Recognize!: An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life

Crown. Oct. 2021. 208p. ed. by Hudson, Wade & Cheryl Willis Hudson, eds. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593381595.
Gr 6 Up–The Hudsons have compiled a powerful collection of essays, poems, short stories, comics, and more around the central theme of “Black Lives Matter.” With selections from a stellar roster of 30 children’s books creators, including Nikki Grimes, Kwame Mbalia, and Sharon Draper, this volume is full to the brim with Black excellence. Excerpts, quotes, and speeches from historical figures, such as Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, and Mary McLeod Bethune, are also interspersed throughout. The stunning eight-page insert features illustrations and paintings by the late Floyd Cooper, Ekua Holmes, Eric Velasquez, and more. These artists present striking and breathtaking images in a range of media, including oil paintings and collage. Though the stirring entries address a diverse array of topics, such as gender, police violence, and Black joy, they all come back to the central theme. The poetry is especially strong. Mahogany L. Browne’s “Your Breath Is a Song,” honors the Black ancestors who made sacrifices for today’s community: “Wherever you are/ Someone fought for you to stay/ Whoever you are/ Someone fought for you to be.” Lesa-Cline Ransome’s “At Our Kitchen Table” is an exhortation to action: “At our kitchen table/ we gather to/ shed tears/ offer prayers/ send money/ write letters/ draw posters/ make plans/ until we too/ rise up/ as a family and/ step out/ to walk/ to shout/ in protest.”
VERDICT Equal parts inspirational and gut-wrenching, this collection has a range of audiences and purposes. It can be used in class discussions, for pleasure reading, or as rallying cry for change.

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