Thank you to Reflections on the Teche for hosting this week.
We are halfway through our Year of International Literature theme (#ReadIntl2020). See here for my progress, thus far. It is important to note, though, that we are not just focusing on translated literature, we are also featuring books written or illustrated by people of colour. And this book below is a perfect example of that, most importantly it is written in verse! Yay!
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration (Amazon | Book Depository)
Poetry by: Samara Cole Doyon Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Published by Tilbury House Publishers (2020)
ISBN: 0884487970 (ISBN13: 9780884487975). Borrowed via NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This picturebook written in verse is, as the title says, a celebration of one’s ethnicity, family bonds, and sense of community. As the poet-author, Samara Cole Doyon, noted in the Afterword:
This poem began as a deeply personal reflection, a kind of prayer for my own children, and children like them, who are multilayered in their racial/ethnic heritage and sometimes feel as painfully out of place as I once did.
I have read a few Goodreads post saying that this is a book meant for adults but packaged erroneously for children. I feel very strongly that beautiful and moving books should not ostensibly target children and what we as adults assume to be their sensibilities. I feel that we are doing children a huge disservice when we claim that they will immediately dismiss books like this with multi-syllabic words like iridescent or beleaguered.
Take for instance, this poetry found in the beautiful image below:
While it can be argued that children may not appreciate the multi-layered nature of the poetic narrative nor its complexity rooted in social justice and systems of oppression – there is still beauty here – both in the cadence of the language, and the exquisiteness of the art – that would resonate deeply, and make one yearn to know more. I believe that it is this yearning that is often overlooked by well-meaning parents or teachers who act as stringent gatekeeper for picturebooks they feel are “meant” for adults, and not children.
I personally feel, however, that stories like these are meant for everyone, and best ready with “a comfortable cup of liquid dreams | sliding lazily over contented lips.”
Which poetic verse did you like best in the images shared above?
#ReadIntl2020 Update: Both author and illustrator are people of colour from the US.