The People Remember written by Ibi Zoboi and illustrated by Loveis Wise, published by Balzer + Bray.
Already a fan of Ibi Zoboi's young adult work, particularly American Street and the anthology Black Enough, I was eager to read her picture book, The People Remember. To say I am glad I did would be an understatement.
From the first page, the author pulls readers into moments with which we can all empathize, and that will consequently underline the brutality that soon follows:
"while celebrating a wedding
and embracing a new baby,
while sending a loved one
into the arms of the ancestors,"
An account of Black history from before the slave trade to present day America, this narrative in verse takes the reader on an emotional journey across land, sea, and generations. Zoboi's language full of cadence and imagery weaves itself through tragedy, but also through love and joy and hope. The People Remember is also organized in such way that it highlights the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Although Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated in December, this book is valuable any time of the year.
In addition, artist Loveis Wise brings their tremendous talent and vision to each page depicting immense emotion through their vibrant and bold illustrations of people experiencing hardship, but also persistence and celebration.
This picture book, for all ages, is further enriched with detailed back matter including an author's note, timeline, and further reading suggestions.
"The people remember" is repeated throughout this book, and for good reason. We are all made of stories, ones we're told and ones we live.
Think of a family story or a historical event that your family often remembers and retells on certain occasions.
Imagine re-living that story as one or several of the people in it.
Imagine what sounds you hear.
Imagine what sites you see.
Imagine what scents you smell.
Imagine what flavors you taste.
Imagine what objects you would hold in your hands.
What emotions do you feel as you imagine?
Write a line of poetry incorporating each of these senses. (Can you find examples in the text?)
Create an image of your experience with these senses. (Can you find examples on the pages?)
Imagine what emotions other people might feel from reading your words or viewing your art.