cover image Black Gold

Black Gold

Laura Obuobi, illus. by London Ladd. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-301576-0

Obuobi pens an origin story that’s at once earthly and impressively cosmic, an ethereal children’s debut that centers a Black child’s beginnings. “When the Universe decided to create you,/ she drew you from the earth—/rich,/ dark,/ and full of everything that gives life.” Having “reached deep into the ground and scooped you,” the Universe molds the child’s body, bones, skin, limbs, and features: “She adorned you with eyes/ like black star sapphires and/ gifted you with full lips/ to speak your truth.” Once the Universe breathes life into the brown-skinned, coily-haired child and dusts them in gold, they are passed from the arms of the Universe to the Sun, “who filled you with light,” and from the Sun to the Moon, “who filled you with wisdom.” At last, “The Universe wrapped her arms around you, filling you with love.” Alternating between mythical scenes of creation and naturalistic portaits of a growing child, Ladd (Midnight Teacher) combines acrylic paint, cut paper, and tissue paper to create dynamic, starlit imagery, launching Obuobi’s astral prose into the stars while leading to a triumphant pronouncement: “I am a child of the Universe. I am Black Gold.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Maria Vicente, P.S. Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Oct.)