Kin: Rooted in Hope

Atheneum. Sept. 2023. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665913621.
Gr 5 Up–Weatherford and her son have created a poetic meditation on the process of researching ancestry, with a specific focus on those who are descended from those who were enslaved. Told in many voices, these poems tell the story of a long line of individuals who were removed from Senegal and taken to the Chesapeake Bay. The Weatherfords imagine the lives of those who couldn’t have recorded their own as they weave together a narrative of their ancestors. Poems include chilling information drawn from primary sources, including inventory documents that placed a value on human lives. These sections are evocative of similar sections in Julius Lester’s Day of Tears. The poem “Partus Sequitur Ventrem/Offspring Follows Belly” introduces the concept that during this time babies born to enslaved women were also slaves. Dramatic scratchboard illustrations throughout the book allow the tone of the poems to switch swiftly from lighter to darker topics, using design to prepare readers for some of the more difficult content. Author’s and illustrator’s notes provide context, and a bibliography offers sources for additional research.
VERDICT A unique book that will be appreciated by the right readers, especially those familiar with Kwame Alexander’s The Door of No Return.

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