Black Girl You Are Atlas

Penguin/Kokila. Feb. 2024. 96p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593461709.
Gr 7 Up–Drawing from her past memories, Watson encourages Black girls to celebrate themselves with love in this semi-autobiographical collection of poetry. In “Resurrection” she explains, “Renée, the name that means rebirth, to bring new life.” Renée is a sense of resilience after the sorrows of her ancestors and the traumas of Rodney King, Anita Hill, Breonna Taylor, and teachers blind to the brilliance of a young Black girl. Joyful childhood recollections include double Dutch, Werther’s Original and peppermint candies on Sundays, reggae, dreadlocks, and white sand. Bob Marley, The Jackson 5, and New Edition write a fresh diagram for feet to follow with their songs. The combination of poetry and collage art is exceptionally powerful and dynamic. The imagery provided by the reflective verse is encapsulated exquisitely in tandem with the illustrations. Although pain is present at the intersection of race, gender, and class, it is balanced by the many ways love shows up. Soulful haiku, free verse, and tanka poetry paired with dazzling designs propel the sense of sisterhood that jumps off the page with pride and jubilance.
VERDICT Brimming with vibrant, layered poetry and stunningly textured collage art, this ballad for Black girls is a must for all collections.

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