Review of Indigo Dreaming

Indigo Dreaming Indigo Dreaming
by Dinah Johnson ; illus. by Anna Cunha
Preschool, Primary     Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp.     g
10/22     978-0-06-308020-1     $18.99

Johnson’s “love song to the Sea Islands [and] my African friends” opens with a young Black girl running along the beach at “day-clean,” the Gullah/Geechee phrase for dawn. Cunha’s illustrations capture the oranges and blues of the early morning sky and the brilliant blue of the sea. The second spread shows another Black girl across the sea also greeting the morning. The two girls, while separated by an ocean, have much in common, as shown in Cunha’s textured, colorful illustrations and Johnson’s engaging text. Throughout the day, each plays with friends on the beach, listens to stories about Anansi the spider, and makes a basket out of sweetgrass. In an appended author’s note, Johnson explains that the Gullah/Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans who have maintained many aspects of their African culture, and that the Sea Islands along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida have been home to them. Through the story, young readers learn about the islands and some of their language and traditions while experiencing the beauty of connection. This story pairs well with Royce’s middle-grade novel Root Magic (rev. 3/21), which is also set in the Sea Islands; as well as Hamilton’s The People Could Fly , which retells many of the folktales told by Africans throughout the diaspora.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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