Watch Me: A Story of Immigration and Inspiration

Doyin Richards, illus. by Joe Cepeda. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-26651-4
In an inviting, conversational tone, Richards introduces Joe, who is from Sierra Leone and wants to study in America. Family and friends warn Joe that he will be derided for his dark skin and West African accent. But Joe isn’t fazed, and Richards employs the refrain “watch me” as Joe considers returning home in the face of white Americans’ contempt—but decides to tough it out, and succeeds. Employing a compelling narrative voice (“But Joe’s dreams didn’t hang out with ‘safe’ and ‘easy’ ”), Richards directs readers to recognize similarities they may share with Joe (who “had goals and dreams, like you”), and, regardless of readers’ citizenship, to open their eyes to immigrants (“They come by plane. Perhaps like you./ They come by boat. Maybe you did, too./ Watch them. See them”). The narrative’s affect deepens when the unnamed narrator reveals his relationship to Joe. Cepeda’s scumbled sunlit paintings, created with oil over acrylic on board, emphasize warmth and openness. A personal story with universal impact. Ages 3–5. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 01/07/2021
Release date: 01/12/2021
Genre: Children's
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