Review of All Because You Matter

All Because You Matter
by Tami Charles; illus. by Bryan Collier
Preschool, Primary    Orchard/Scholastic    40 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-338-57485-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-67474-3    $10.99

A richly illustrated affirmation for Black children — especially boys. An African American expectant mother and father eagerly await the arrival of their child, embracing him even as he grows in utero. On the first double-page spread, a full moon appears, composed of overlapping petal shapes that form a tapestry, a quilt — a visual motif that soon becomes colorful patterns and images of African American faces. The visuals throughout whisper of the family’s African ancestry; the poetic text says, “You were dreamed of, like a knapsack full of wishes, carried on the backs of your ancestors as they created empires, pyramids, legacies.” Charles employs the word matter effectively as both noun and verb, emphasizing that because this child is made up of matter from the universe, he matters. When the mother reads to her son in her lap, the text pays homage to Rudine Sims Bishop’s framework, likening the book the pair is reading to a mirror in which the child can see the “same hair, same skin, same dreams.” After touching on the racism that Black children face, this tribute announces its uplifting climax in Collier’s loving illustrations of this brown-skinned child’s face, boldly inviting the audience to see — really see — him in all his beauty. Stunning. Powerful. Timely. Illustrated inspiration at its best.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children & Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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