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THE PEOPLE REMEMBER by Ibi Zoboi Kirkus Star


by Ibi Zoboi ; illustrated by Loveis Wise

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-291564-1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

A lyrical history of African American life that also explicates the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Opening with Africans from many ethnic groups being ripped from their homelands in the midst of births, deaths, storytelling, and other daily occurrences, this immaculately illustrated picture book walks through a vast swath of history. This includes the Atlantic slave trade, the plight and escape of enslaved people, emancipation, northern migration, faith journeys, and more, ending with the Movement for Black Lives. Zoboi’s lyrical free verse, with occasional subtle rhymes, always speaks boldly about the lives, trials, and successes of African American people. The refrain the people remember emphasizes how memories are passed down from one generation to the next, be they positive or otherwise. Figures like Mami Wata center Africa and the African diaspora—necessary for explaining the Kwanzaa principles within the narrative. Wise’s humans, somewhat reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence’s, feel big and expansive in proportion to their surroundings, representing the outsized impact African Americans have had on United States history and culture, whether acknowledged or not. Rich, deeply saturated illustrations cover every page and show how integral African Americans have been to the creation and growth of the arts. Extensive backmatter will ground readers in the facts and spark interest for further research. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Zoboi’s poetic retrospective breathes life into Black history narratives and reverently celebrates Black lives.

(author's note, timeline, further reading) (Picture book. 7-adult)