Review of I Is for Immigrants

I Is for Immigrants
by Selina Alko; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp.    g
6/21    978-1-250-23786-6    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-84540-5    $10.99

A is for ancestors, abuelita, and African dance; B is for bodega, braids, and bubble tea. In this alphabet book, Alko (One Golden Rule at School, rev. 7/20) highlights some of the myriad ways immigrants have contributed to this country’s rich diversity with her bright, friendly, and festive illustrations. The art — mixed-media collage with wide strokes of paint on newsprint, tickets, lined notebook paper, and musical scores — is the standout here. The pages are as varied and textured as the images she has chosen to represent immigration. Readers will find things both familiar and new, but all are matter-of-factly part of the mix. Maybe you knew that Turkish delight and kimchi were brought to this country by immigrants from other parts of the world, but Alko’s at-a-glance representation reminds us that bananas and yogurt were as well. Scattered among the foods and cultural offerings (martial arts, yoga, samba dance) are concepts foundational to the American — and universal human — dream (ambition, endurance, belonging). Each word is hand-lettered, and the diversity of fonts celebrates and mirrors the diversity of ideas and contributions. With immigration a constant political flashpoint, Alko takes a warm, celebratory approach to enumerate the dimensionality that has come from around the world to become part of the fabric of America.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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