cover image Early Sunday Morning

Early Sunday Morning

Denene Millner, illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Bolden/Millner, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-57284-211-3

An African-American girl prepares for her first solo with her church’s youth choir in an uplifting story about family, community, and big first steps. The unnamed narrator loves to sing with her father at home, but public performance is a scary prospect. In the days before the solo, the girl listens to suggestions meant to ease her anxiety, and with freshly redone hair and a new dress, she’s ready to go. Nervousness strikes as she’s about to start singing, but the surprise arrival of her father (who had been planning to skip church, having worked an extra shift) gives her a burst of confidence. Millner (the Hotlanta series) sensitively reflects her heroine’s performance anxiety and warmly details the traditions of this churchgoing family—including having a big Sunday dinner prepared before service, since sometimes “Pastor Scott gets lost in the rhythm [and] can preach on... and on... and on.” Brantley-Newton’s (Mary Had a Little Glam) glowing mixed-media images capture the love shared among the members of the girls’ family and the jubilant atmosphere of their church. Ages 4–9. Author’s agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Apr.)