cover image All Because You Matter

All Because You Matter

Tami Charles, illus. by Bryan Collier. Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-338-57485-2

Caldecott Honoree Collier’s (Trombone Shorty) tender, close-up watercolor portraits of a growing Black boy give visual power to this celebration of young Black lives. In an author’s note, Charles (Freedom Soup) writes about “The Big Talk”—words that every Black parent must speak to their child about discrimination and violence. Lyrical verse that aims to offer “a starting point for conversations about the racial climate in our country” underlines an important message: “you, dear child, matter.” Beginning with his birth and a spread of the boy toddling into his mother’s arms, text invokes his history and familial legacy: “you were dreamed of,/ like a knapsack/ full of wishes/ carried on the backs/ of your ancestors/ as they created/ empires,/ pyramids,/ legacies.” As a schoolchild in a green T-shirt, he faces hurdles: academic efforts go unrewarded, classmates jeer, “another name is called:/ Trayvon,/ Tamir,/ Philando.” Alongside these realities, Charles delivers a ringing affirmation of his life’s meaning—“Did you know that... strength, power, and/ beauty lie within you?”—as Collier shows the boy straight on, surrounded by collaged images of his ancestry. Universal declarations are often illustrated with images of many children; this book’s focus on a single child brings his experience and life—and the ways they matter—right up close. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]