Build a House

Candlewick. Oct. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536222524.
Gr 3 Up–In a few short stanzas, this story-song encapsulates and sets to haunting, minor-key music the African American experience of being taken as slaves and forced to work, then emancipated only to continue to face endless racism. Radiant artwork shows people working hard and trying to make a living as well as the anguish of being displaced and having to start over. At the end of the book, there is a QR code that provides a link to a performance of the song by Giddens on banjo and Yo-Yo Ma on cello that helps bring the musical part of the song alive. This is a difficult topic to discuss with younger children who are typically the audience for picture books, but the historical Black experience in America gains an excellent conversation starter here, in any study about racism or the American past.
VERDICT A beautifully illustrated song about the African American experience, with realistic depictions of work and experiences; this is a great choice for libraries looking for new ways to tell stories about slavery, reparations, and the ongoing need for social justice.

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