This is a long day in a long week, and so I picked something different: I Am Loved, a collection of Nikki Giovanni’s poetry coupled with Ashley Bryan’s lush art.
Nikki Giovanni sings in her poetry, writing celebrations of love and life and family and friends in the midst of horror. (In Love Poems, that horror includes hate crimes—she doesn’t shy from reality.) The poems in this collection are no exception: while they don’t actualy get into the horror of some of Giovanni’s poetry (there’s no KKK here), they have surprising depths, and will allow young readers the chance to return again and again, getting something more with each reaidng. Hell, adult readers can read them again and again, too, for they are beautiful, and the art is stunning too.
Ashley Bryan is a multiple award-winning author and artist/illustrator: you’ve certainly seen his work, if you’ve read any number of representative picture books. His style is perfectly to Giovanni’s lively, loving poetry—it is suffused with warmth and with joy, making words and images a joyful concert. Bright colors will draw in little folks, but I mean, they draw me in, too.
I Am Loved is only a few poems, really—a chapbook of vibrant words and gem-like art, ready and begging to be shared, with your young folks, or with other adults. It’s joyful and vibrant in word and image, a COVID-free embrace of a book. Surely, now more than ever, we all need that hug.