cover image Build a House

Build a House

Rhiannon Giddens, illus. by Monica Mikai. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-2252-4

Originally released in 2020 to honor Juneteenth’s 155th anniversary, the lines of this song, now a picture book debut by Giddens, invoke the storied heritage of African American music, discussing Black chattel slavery in America. Mikai’s textured digital illustrations follow the text as a Black family of three is forced to build a house and work farmland for those who “brought me here.” Subsequently told to “GO,” the family is soon denied the chance to make a place for themselves when the home they build is burned down—an act of violence that precedes another home’s construction. Throughout, images lend emotional gravity to reiterative verse (“I learned your words/ And wrote my song/ Wrote my song/ Wrote my song”), marking a contrast between the ample bounty the family is forced to create and the oppression that makes that bounty possible, in a story of freedom stolen and home long sought. An afterword and QR code to the recorded song conclude. Ages 7–10. (Oct.)