cover image My Red, White, and Blue

My Red, White, and Blue

Alana Tyson, illus. by London Ladd. Philomel, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-52570-8

In simple rhyming verse from debut author Tyson, a Black child narrator explores what the American flag means to them. Though a teacher says that the flag “promotes DIVERSITY,” the child’s grandfather explains, “While our flag can mean promise, and refuge, and glory,/ for some folks, it tells a complete different story.” Ladd’s acrylic, colored pencil, and paper illustrations create multidimensional spreads depicting the enslavement of Black people, the Civil War, Jim Crow–era segregation, and more recent events, such as a Black Lives Matter protest and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. Through this history, the protagonist learns that someone might “decide not to praise./ Instead they refuse in a number of ways.” This layered look at reactions to a national symbol ends with the child’s decision: “I’m my ancestors’ dream, what they hoped to be true./ A brown child who’d find pride in the red, white, and blue.” An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)