Inheritance A visual poem

Elizabeth Acevedo

Book - 2022

"In her most famous spoken-word poem, award -winning author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo celebrates the beauty and meaning of natural Black hair, her words vibrantly illustrated by artist Andrea Pippins. This powerful book embraces all the complexities of Afro-Latinidad-the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance."--

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Young adult literature
Visual poetry
Juvenile works
New York, NY : Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2022]
Main Author
Elizabeth Acevedo (author)
Other Authors
Andrea Pippins (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 20 cm
From 13.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Acevedo's poem "Hair," which was written for a thesis in 2009 and went viral with her spoken-word performance in 2014, has now been beautifully adapted as a visual poem with the help of Pippins in Inheritance. In this small book, every square inch of every page is full of color and visual depictions of the poem's evocative lines. The palette in Pippins' illustrations--every shade of brown and warm terra-cotta earth tones--echoes the poem's sentiments. When Acevedo writes of hair strangling the air, the page seems to be swallowed by curls. A Dominican hair salon, a person with straightened hair shining like the sun, two people coming together "like sugarcane" and creating babies with beautiful hair whom they will teach to love themselves are all literally and figuratively illustrated in a combination of traditional hand-drawn and digital paintings. The poem tackles generational trauma and posits the powerful question, "Did our ancestors imagine that their great-grandchildren would look like us? And would try to escape them how we do?" It closes with the empowering declaration that what was never broken cannot be fixed. This beautiful, inviting presentation of Acevedo's poem can be appreciated by readers with a wide range of ages and interests.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling, award-winning Acevedo got her start with poetry, and her many fans will be eager for this new presentation of one of her most beloved works.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In spoken-word lines that explicate the tension between what people say and what they mean, Acevedo (Clap When You Land) confronts the cultural specter of hair-related prejudice through the lens of colonial history and Afro-Dominican identity. "Some people tell me to 'fix' my hair. And by fix, they mean straighten; they mean whiten"--but, the poem's speaker intones, "how do you fix this shipwrecked history of hair?" Centering figures with brown skin of varying tones, Pippins's (Young Gifted and Black) bold-hued, unlined art portrays curls, coils, and elaborate road map cornrows, including a design with a ship at its center. A subsequent spread centers a salon offering blowouts and roller sets: "We're told Dominicans do the best hair. We can wash, set, flatten the spring in any lock." But the context behind those words, the lines indicate, aligns with colonial beauty standards: "What they mean is: Why would you date a Black man?" and "Have you thought about your daughter's hair?" Embracing the beauty of Afro-Latinidad hair exactly as it is, Acevedo affirms, "Our children will be beautiful... Oh, how I will braid pride down their backs, and from the moment they leave the womb, they will be born in love with themselves." Ages 13--up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (May)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

An illustrated poem that acknowledges prejudice and celebrates Black hair. Award-winning author and poet Acevedo opens with an insult that will resonate with Black girls and women: "Some people tell me to 'fix' my hair." Her powerful response comes at the very end: "You can't fix what was never broken." In between, many themes are explored, some of which apply to Black people broadly, while others specifically reference Dominican culture. Throughout, Pippins' hand-drawn and digital illustrations showcase an incredible array of natural hairstyles and details, such as the image of a ship within the braided pattern of one character's hair. Impressively, the poem goes beyond typical dialogues about Black hair, acknowledging Black people's internalized racism that comes from beauty standards grounded in White supremacy. The poem highlights the reputation that Dominicans have for being able to "flatten the spring in any lock," following that line with a powerful reframing. From there, Acevedo moves into discussing colorism⁠--in particular, the prejudice against lighter-skinned people partnering with darker-skinned people--and more. Pippins' bright, colorful, and evocative art covers full pages, lovingly portraying the all-Black cast with a diverse range of skin tones and hair textures. The text varies in size, seamlessly incorporated into the art. An incredible amount of reflection appears in this slim volume, making this a wonderful choice for group discussions. Brave, sharp, and powerful. (Poetry. 12-adult) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.