September/October 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Spanning centuries of African American experience and weaving into the story the principles of Kwanzaa, this is a stunning picture book that should become a classic.”
— Sandy Scott, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Ibi Zoboi comes her debut picture book—a tour de force that uses the principles of Kwanzaa to talk about the history of African Americans. This lyrical, powerful tribute is sumptuously illustrated by New Yorker artist and rising star Loveis Wise. A beautiful gift for readers of all ages and for fans of Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul.
The People Remember tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It begins in Africa, where people were taken from their homes and families. They spoke different languages and had different customs.
Yet they were bound and chained together and forced onto ships sailing into an unknown future. Ultimately, all these people had to learn one common language and create a culture that combined their memories of home with new traditions that enabled them to thrive in this new land.
Sumptuously illustrated, this is an important book to read as a family—a story young readers can visit over and over again to deepen their understanding of African American history in relation to their own lives and current social justice movements. By turns powerful and revealing, this is a lyrical narrative that tells the story of survival, as well as the many moments of joy, celebration, and innovation of Black people in America.
About the Author
Ibi Zoboi holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of Pride and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, a New York Times bestseller. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough. Born in Haiti and raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.ibizoboi.net.
Loveis Wise is an illustrator and designer from Washington, DC. They are currently based in Los Angeles and their work often speaks to themes of joy and liberation. Their work can be found through the New Yorker, Google, Adobe, and the New York Times. You can find them online at www.loveiswise.com.
“In lyrical verses with a smoothly rolling, sonorous quality… Zoboi’s poem is a master class in conciseness, expertly evoking powerful images, concepts, and emotions out of just a handful of words, particularly when paired with Wise’s exultant art, and the robust back matter offers even more context and nuance. A must-have for holiday collections, but let its light shine throughout the rest of the year, too.”
— ALA Booklist (starred review)
“This immaculately illustrated picture book walks through a vast swath of history… Zoboi’s poetic retrospective breathes life into Black history narratives and reverently celebrates Black lives.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Zoboi’s gorgeous prose illuminates… and Wise’s illustrations highlight the beauty of African American culture. Their color palette takes readers on an emotional journey that is also a brilliant blend of poetry, African, and African American history. Zoboi skillfully weaves together the narratives of enslaved Africans into a wonderful tapestry that is honest and beautiful. Perfect for school and public libraries, this must-have offering celebrates African American cultural identity should be included in all collections.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)
“Zoboi employs magnetic, allusive free verse to describe the course of history as experienced by members of the African diaspora and enslaved African peoples…. Zoboi’s lyrical verse is further strengthened by Wise’s eye-catching digital illustrations, composed of lushly colored images realistic and fantastical, historical and contemporary, and painted with spectacular vibrance to portray the experience of African and African American people throughout time. A rich resource ideal for Kwanzaa and beyond.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Zoboi and Wise beautifully ‘sew together a tapestry of / their stories / one fine quilt / a blanket for the children / to keep them warm, protected, and safe.’ Each brightly colored spread tells of important moments and people in African American history.…Wise’s sumptuous digital illustrations are reminiscent of the patches created by African American quilters to remind future generations of their past.”
— Horn Book (starred review)