Review of The People Remember

The People Remember
by Ibi Zoboi; illus. by Loveis Wise
Primary, Intermediate    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    
64 pp.    g
9/21    978-0-06-291564-1    $19.99

Through art and words, with the framework of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Zoboi (American Street, rev. 3/17; Black Enough, rev. 1/19) and Wise beautifully “sew together a tapestry of / their stories / one fine quilt / a blanket for the children / to keep them warm, protected, and safe.” Each brightly colored spread tells of important moments and people in African American history. Author and illustrator first bring readers back to Africa and remind them that before there was Africa and African Americans, there were the Fulani, the Hausa, the Ashanti, and the Akan, who lived in Mali, Kongo, and Songhai. As they move along, readers are reminded of the Middle Passage, enslavement, the Civil War, and the Great Migration. Despite the hardships and struggles, the people remember their Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith), Nia (purpose), Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), and Ujamaa (cooperative economics) to survive and thrive. Wise’s sumptuous digital illustrations are reminiscent of the patches created by African American quilters to remind future generations of their past. The bright colors reflect the hope and optimism that African Americans have carried with them. Along with history, readers are introduced to the principles of Kwanzaa in an informative and heartfelt appended author’s note and timeline.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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