*Starred Review* Addressing her son, an African American mother reflects on cradling him in her arms in infancy and holding his hand as he learns to walk and later crosses the street to enter kindergarten. She comforts him, tucks him in at night, and passes along her wisdom. But as he grows older, knowing that she can't always protect him, she explains that she will pray for his safety, trusting God to watch over him as he enters adolescence. The powerfully written text, which occasionally echoes the words of Martin Luther King Jr., ends with the lines "Black / lives / matter. / Your / life / matters. / I pray to God each day: / Hold my son in Your hands." Expressing a personal response to difficult issues, this heartfelt monologue is delivered by a character dealing with her fears through her beliefs, while offering her son a comforting message of strength in troubling times. For the luminous artwork, Pinkney uses watercolor, gouache, and india ink in strong, curving strokes to create characters and settings, while lighter lines and swirls of gentle colors bring a sense of warmth and music to the scenes. This picture book will move many readers, including adults, with its lyrical yet powerful words and art. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
A mother dreams about the future as she cuddles her newborn son, Omari. The next few years will be defined by an intense physical connection—"I kiss your scrapes and scratches/ and wipe your occasional tears," writes Weatherford (Freedom in Congo Square)—and then she will need to let go. But because Omari is black, his mother's prayers take on a striking and sobering specificity: she asks for his safety in neighborhoods "beyond our own" and "as you cast a longer shadow,/ that you will be viewed as a vessel to be steered/ rather than a figure to be feared." Pinkney (On the Ball) uses sweeping, expressive ink lines and radiant washes of color to create both an impressionistic mood and poignant immediacy. For all its beauty and lyricism, Weatherford's book doesn't equivocate. Because for children like Omari, the stakes are as high as their mothers' love is deep. "I add my prayers to the chorus," she writes. "Black lives matter. Your life matters." Ages 4–8. Author's agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator's agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
PreS-Gr 3—From award-winning Weatherford (Voice of Freedom; Moses), this poem from a black mother to her firstborn son will resonate as a prayer for all black boys. A mother holds her child's hand while expressing her hopes for his safety, his confidence, and a world that will see him as a "vessel to be steered rather than a figure to be feared." The narrative moves through the child's life and the struggle most parents go through when they realize that they can no longer hold their children close and protect them, but acknowledges that extra worry that parents of black boys face as the mother asks God to hold her son in his hands. The book ends with the mother adding her prayer to the chorus: "Black lives matter. Your life matters." The text is given the space to shine opposite Pinkney's art, with font size changes for impact. The illustrations, loose and fluid pastel watercolors with India ink outlines, offer a sense of warmth and comfort with swirls around the images projecting the mother's love. Hands are integral to each picture, with larger hands at times representing God embracing the young boy. A final image shows God's hands enveloping a world where everyone holds hands as the mother ends, "Hold my son in your hands." VERDICT An exceptional gift to black families, and with its important underlying messages of our times, this title should be added to most library collections. Best shared one-on-one with a loved one.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
A mother conveys the dreams and prayers she has for her child.Review by Publisher Summary 2
An African American mother describes her dreams for her newborn son, her hopes for his future, and her prayers for his safety.Review by Publisher Summary 3
A black mother lyrically conveys the dreams and prayers she has for her child, in an evocative picture book ideally suited for gift-giving. By the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Duke Ellington. Simultaneous eBook.Review by Publisher Summary 4
A black mother expresses the many hopes and dreams she has for her child in this powerful picture book masterpiece that's perfect for gift-giving.When you are a newborn, I hold your hand and study your face. I cradle you as you drift to sleep. But I know that I will not always hold your hand; not the older you get. Then, I will hold you in my heart And hope that God holds you in his hands.Review by Publisher Summary 5
A black mother expresses the many hopes and dreams she has for her child in this powerful picture book masterpiece that’s perfect for gift-giving.When you are a newborn, I hold your hand and study your face. I cradle you as you drift to sleep. But I know that I will not always hold your hand; not the older you get. Then, I will hold you in my heart And hope that God holds you in his hands.