Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Highly Recommended: REMEMBER by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Written by Joy Harjo (Mvskoke Nation)
Illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit Nation)
Published in 2023
Publisher: Random House
Reviewer: Debbie Reese
Review Status: Highly Recommended


Look at the book cover. Above the single-word title, REMEMBER, you will see the name of the author -- Joy Harjo -- and the illustrator -- Michaela Goade -- and in front of their names you'll see these words: "U.S. Poet Laureate" and "Caldecott Medalist." I'm beginning this critique with those words of distinction because they mark a moment in time that demonstrates the resilience and power of Native peoples. 

The words and illustrations once you start turning the pages embody that resilience and power. You'll see brilliance and brightness. Stillness. Tenderness. The connectedness between human beings, the earth, the skies, the elements, creatures of the land and sea. 

The page that makes my heart explode is this one:

The words there are:
Remember your birth, how your mother
struggled to give you form and breath.

You are evidence of her life,
and her mother's, and hers.
I won't say more about the contents of the book, because I want you to get a copy as soon as you can. I want the emotions each page generates to be your own. I think everyone should read each page, sitting with each one for a while and returning to the book or a page, again and again. 

I highly recommend Remember.