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Review of I Am Loved

I Am Loved
by Nikki Giovanni; illus. by Ashley Bryan
Primary    Dlouhy/Atheneum    32 pp.
1/18    978-1-5344-0492-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-0493-9    $10.99

A legendary pair presents a volume of verse worth remembering. Bryan’s recognizably vibrant, colorful, and moving illustrations accompany a selection of Giovanni’s poems (both new and previously published). The electric blue, sunny yellow, warm brown, bright purple, etc., of the front-cover illustration set an upbeat tone that Bryan maintains throughout (even in “A Song of a Blackbird,” a poem about death). While the topics range from dance to self-reflection to nature to friendship, each illustration affirms the beauty and worth of black and brown children. Several poems recall slavery and the civil rights movement, providing a historical source of strength and courage for contemporary readers. One poem, “I Am a Mirror,” is told from the first-person perspective of the mylar mirror attached to the facing page. The speaker travels back generationally, beginning with “I reflect the grace / Of my mother…” and going back to the great-grandfather and the ancestors, taking an attribute from each generation that results in a strong individual. The presentation can be viewed as an almost literal interpretation of Rudine Sims Bishop’s concept of a mirror book. A combination of poetry and art that will bring readers back again and again.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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