#ReadIntl2020 Books Early Readers Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

[Poetry Friday] Hey Black Child

...by Useni Eugene Perkins and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Myra here.

Thank you to Janice Scully of Salt City Verse for hosting this week.

As we feature voices from the fringe for our quarterly reading theme, I thought it would be great to highlight celebratory voices that resound with pride and joy, and this picturebook in verse is a perfect example of that.

Hey Black Child (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poem by: Useni Eugene Perkins Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2017)
ISBN: 0316360309 (ISBN13: 9780316360302). Borrowed from NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

This poem written by Useni Eugene Perkins in 1975 had been attributed to countless famous poets including Maya Angelou and Countee Cullen. This picture book shares the roots of this verse that bear fierce pride towards having a Black identity, and the many challenges and opportunities being a Black child can offer in this world.

There is a can-do spirit that is brimming with joy and possibilities, with the deceptively-simple verse sounding almost like a chant, a prayer, a mantra of all the things Black children can do and be.

Collier’s images also powerfully make use of collage art, juxtaposing actual photographs with his colourful art that seem to jump out of the pages.

While overwhelmingly positive, there is also an acknowledgment of how the Black child’s strength and resolve had been forged by a history of pain, oppression, and disenfranchisement. The visual art captures this in such a subtle but impactful manner.

This is a gorgeous picturebook-poetry to own and one that should proudly take its space in anyone’s bookshelf.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: Both author and illustrator are POC.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Hey Black Child

  1. Yes, such a gorgeous celebration of life and possibility! Thank you for sharing it today. xo


  2. I have this book on my list! Thank you for this important post!


  3. That looks like such a beautiful book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  4. I have it on my list, too, Myra. Thanks for sharing this beautiful book!


  5. Kimberly Hutmacher

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the strong txt and beautiful images this book offers. Another to add to my list.


  6. it’s great book. it will in my book list. thanks for giving this recommendations 🙂


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