Black Boy Joy
I Am My Ancestors’
by Tanisia “Tee” Moore, illustrated by Robert Paul, Jr.
An anthem to Black Boy Joy, this debut picture book calls on the youngest readers to celebrate their place in a venerated legacy while inspiring them to see themselves as the next generation’s leaders: their ancestors’ wildest dreams.
Publication date: September 19, 2023
The Reviews Are In!
...The energetic text reads like a smooth stream of affirmations honoring the self and cultural pride. The cartoonlike illustrations use bright colors, cheerful faces, and confident poses to emphasize the power of the child’s positive self-image, fortified by a strong relationship with past and contemporary heroes. With the resonance of the titular saying and additional affirming phrases in the child’s assured voice, this book will lend confidence to Black children and remind all readers of the dignity and contributions of African American people.
A joyful tribute to share with young children.
A vibrant, heartwarming celebration of Black excellence and Black ancestors, this book invokes the legacies of Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, Kobe Bryant, and Thurgood Marshall via an unnamed protagonist going about his day. Moore’s writing is firm and full of similes, inviting readers to imagine how they can be “like Tupac and Biggie” when they use their voices to touch hearts. Paul’s illustrations emulate watercolor and pastel work through a digital medium and will excite readers who see their heroes on the page. The refrain of “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams” invokes hope and resilience while still being a positive, uplifting meditation. The back matter includes miniature biographies of these figures to serve as a jumping-off point for future learning.
VERDICT: Spot on for young readers who will enjoy the sparser text, this will also resonate with older readers who may be more familiar with the ancestors depicted.
AUDIOBOOK REVIEW (Narrated by Nile Bullock, Tanisia Moore, and Robert Paul, Jr.) *STARRED REVIEW*
Moore’s empowering debut celebrates a young Black boy’s unbridled pride and joy for who he is: “I AM FLY. From my crown down to the kicks on my feet … I AM my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Those ancestors include 10 heroes, from Chadwick Boseman to Charles Drew, from John Lewis to Thurgood Marshall. Already uplifting in print, the audio is an even greater exhilarating enhancement. Spirited, youthfully persuasive Bullock performs a confident narration over a dynamic soundtrack by Matthew Head. The same narration repeats, with a techo-rattle to cue page turns. Moore then reads her bolstering author’s note (“you, my friend, can change the world”), and adds “A Little About These Ancestors” she’s chosen. The final track concludes with artist Paul voicing his “imagination is the seed of greatness”—encouragement; his heroes are 11—MLK is visible only in print.
VERDICT: All libraries should invest in this impeccable collaboration.
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