cover image In Your Hands

In Your Hands

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Brian Pinkney. Atheneum, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6293-8

A mother dreams about the future as she cuddles her newborn son, Omari. The next few years will be defined by an intense physical connection—“I kiss your scrapes and scratches/ and wipe your occasional tears,” writes Weatherford (Freedom in Congo Square)—and then she will need to let go. But because Omari is black, his mother’s prayers take on a striking and sobering specificity: she asks for his safety in neighborhoods “beyond our own” and “as you cast a longer shadow,/ that you will be viewed as a vessel to be steered/ rather than a figure to be feared.” Pinkney (On the Ball) uses sweeping, expressive ink lines and radiant washes of color to create both an impressionistic mood and poignant immediacy. For all its beauty and lyricism, Weatherford’s book doesn’t equivocate. Because for children like Omari, the stakes are as high as their mothers’ love is deep. “I add my prayers to the chorus,” she writes. “Black lives matter. Your life matters.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)