cover image I’m From

I’m From

Gary R. Gray Jr., illus. by Oge Mora. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-308996-9

The reiterative phrase “I come from...” frames the reflections of a Black child narrator discussing their identity in this tenderly observed picture book. Pages that move throughout a day begin, “I come from/ early morning wake-ups,/ handcrafted blankets/ knitted with memories.” As the morning continues, “Have to/ beat the traffic” leads to getting out the door and boarding a school bus alongside children shown with various skin tones and hairstyles (“High fades and/ low fades,/ tight ponytails/ and laid edges”). Layered collage spreads by Caldecott Honoree Mora pulse with vibrant color and movement as the bus riders dance to “good morning beats” until the driver announces, “This bus ain’t going NOWHERE until y’all...// SITDOWN.” School represents long days (“books that don’t/ click/ with me”) as well as difficult and incessant questions (“can I touch your HAIR?/ don’t sound BLACK! .../ WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”). But the child knows that “I’m from/ ...drawing my own heroes,/ writing/ my own stories.” And after school, there’s the candy store and the refuge of family: “Bear-tight cuddles,/ late-night belly laughs.” Poet Gray, making a picture book debut, models the process of, and the power in, learning that “I come from/ somewhere.” Ages 4–8. (Sept.)