We interrupt the second installment of the Best Fiction of 2022 for some outstanding books written on Black History. I had difficulty narrowing down the books, so I will list more at the end of my review. These books are all picture books, and some recently won awards which I will indicate. These books are great for all ages to enjoy and appreciate unless otherwise indicated.
Just Like Jesse Owens, by Ambassador Andrew Young as told to Paula Young Shelton and gorgeously illustrated using chalk pastels by Gordon C. James. This book reflects to a very difficult time in U.S. history when segregation was instituted in the South. This story takes place in the1930s when Andrew young was a young boy, as told to his daughter. There was much tension and Andrew’s father taught him a tremendous lesson when he took his young family to see a newsreel about Jesse Owens winning the Olympic gold medal. The lesson: Don’t get mad, get smart! The pictures fill the page and overflow into the other open-page of the book.
Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement, by Sandra Neil Wallace and beautifully illustrated using watercolor and collage, extending to most of both sides of the open-page by Bryan Collier, celebrates a leader of this movement that is little known. Through both intricate pictures and woven words, you learn about how the Diane Nash grew into an unsung hero of nonviolent resistance.
Little Black Boy: Oh, the Things You Can Do!, by Larry C. Fields III and Little Black Girl: Oh the Things You Can Do!, both books by Kirby Howell-Baptistery and digitally painted by Paul Davey, beautifully showcases all that you can be through a rhyming text. The message throughout is positive, encouraging and uplifting making this perfect or kids ages four through eight.
The Talk, by Alicia D. Williams and delightfully illustrated digitally by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, shows a young boy growing into a teen. As he grows, each of the adults he is close to give their advice along the way. His grandpa, nana, mom, and dad all help guide him throughout. I especially like the examples of great people used to inspire. There is much to discuss and talk about as he grows and what he will encounter when he leaves his house. This book recently won the Coretta Scott King Honor award.
My Fade is Fresh, by Shauntay Grant and richly illustrated with full expressions by Kitt Thomas, celebrates the uniqueness and style that comes with the elegance of black beauty. The quick, short rhyming text mirrors all the action taking place in this barbershop. Marie is the adorable little girl who is constantly receiving input and suggestions of what she desires in the end. This book is adorable and recommended for ages three through seven.
Bessie the Motorcycle Queen, by Charles R. Smith Jr. and brightly illustrated by Charlotte Kristensen, is a lyrical account about a little-known black woman who rode across the country on her motorcycle. Bessie Stringfield rode her motorcycle from state to state back in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The book reads like a race for fun and excitement as you learn a little about Bessie and her free spirit. You can read more about her in the back of the book.
The Story of You, by Lisa Ann Scott and beautifully Illustrated digitally with ink washes by Sue Cornelison, is a wonderful blend of child diversity reading about encouragement of what you can become. The sky is the limit, and you can become all that you aim for. Some of the possibilities to aim for listed in the book are sports, dance, and art. The rhyming text and encouragement on every page makes this great for ages four through eight.
The Hair Book, by Latonya Yvette & Amanda Jane Jones, is a delight and quick read in this smallish-size book. Each open-page showcases a diversity of hairstyle that young and old will immediately recognize. On one side of the open-page reads two or three words and the opposite side shows off with an example. There is cap hair, cornrow hair, party hair and more. The pictures are simple yet very bright making this a fun read for toddlers through age five.
Brown is Warm, Black is Bright, by Sarah L. Thomson and stunningly illustrated by Keith Mallett, is one of the most breathtaking picture books befitting the celebration this month. Every school and city library should own this book. The euphonious text reads with allegories and alliterations sprinkled with simplicity making each page an inspiration. Brown is beckoning… a faithful path to follow all the way home. Black is hope…floating far, a flower hidden deep. But it’s the full open-page spread of luscious scenes that will take your breath away. This book is exhilarating and a must for all to enjoy.