Kid Konnection: Heart and Soul
Heart and Soul, by Kadir Nelson, tells the story of America’s past through the eyes of an aging African American woman. It’s written in a conversational tone, so the reader feels like they’re sitting at her knee listening to her recount history. She starts her story by saying
Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past. Sometimes it’s just too hard to talk about – nothing we like to share with you young folk. No parent wants to tell a child that he was once a slave and made to do another man’s bidding. Or that she had to swallow her pride and take what she was given, even though she knew it wasn’t fair. Our story is chock-full of things like this. Things that might make you cringe, or feel angry. But there are parts that will make you proud, or even laugh a little. You gotta take the good with the bad, I guess. You have to know where you come from so you can move forward.
Since this book is written for ages 9 to 12, it’s a simplified version of history, but that doesn’t keep it from having a big impact. It covers America’s history from the days of slavery to the fight for civil rights, emphasizing the accomplishments of African Americans, and introducing young readers to African American leaders in the military and civil rights as well as sports and inventions.
Heart and Soul is a joy to read. The pages are thick and glossy and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. They are so stunning, you’ll almost want to cut them out and frame them.
I heard Kadir Nelson speak at SIBA and he is extremely talented and passionate. (He had my heart when he spoke about his grandmother.) He told us he decided to write Heart and Soul because he noticed the absence of African Americans in the paintings in the U. S. Capitol. Check out this video to see just how beautiful this book is:
For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.