cover image Light for All

Light for All

Margarita Engle, illus. by Raúl Colón. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5727-0

The creators pay tribute to the torch held high by the Statue of Liberty, and to new arrivals on America’s shores who respond to its call: “The powerful light/ of a mighty lamp/ shines/ for all!” The statue is shown against the blue of the ocean beyond, giving a sense of its scale and grandeur, while Engle (A Song of Frutas) writes that “the promise of jobs/ brings talented doctors, scientists,/ artists, singers, students, cooks....” Colón (Imagine!) centers children of varying skin tones and religions through-out: a cued-Black singer shares sheet music with a light-tan-skinned child, accompanied by a cued–East Asian clarinetist, while another tan-skinned child paints their portrait. Engle acknowledges some of the U.S.’s injustices: “a history/ that began with cruel invasions,/ stealing land from Native people,/ and bringing enslaved captives/ all the way from Africa.” The book occasionally elides nuance in favor of mythologizing America (“Gentler waves of arrival followed,/ with newcomers welcomed”), but the grainy, organic quality of Colón’s spreads, his luminous palette, and the grace he gives to the forms and figures warm the pages of this call to conscience. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)