Winner of the Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor
As a little boy grows into a bigger boy, ready to take on the world, he first must have that very difficult conversation far too familiar to so many Black and Brown Americans in this gentle and ultimately hopeful picture book.
Jay’s most favorite things are hanging out with his pals, getting kisses from Grandma, riding in his dad’s cool car, and getting measured by his mom with pencil marks on the wall. But as those height marks inch upward, Grandpa warns Jay about being in too big a group with his friends, Grandma worries others won’t see him as quite so cute now that he’s older, and Dad has to tell Jay how to act if the police ever pull them over.
And Jay just wants to be a kid.
All Black and Brown kids get The Talk—the talk that could mean the difference between life and death in a racist world. Told in an age-appropriate fashion, with a perfect pause for parents to insert their own discussions with their children to accompany prompting illustrations, The Talk is a gently honest and sensitive starting point for this far-too-necessary conversation, for Black children, Brown children, and for ALL children. Because you can’t make change without knowing what needs changing.
Praise for The Talk
“Powerful illustrations capture every stage of Jay’s growth from fun-loving kid to young man. There is a wordless spread depicting instances of racial profiling and injustice that allows readers and their adults to have a self-guided discussion about the images and the feelings they evoke. VERDICT This powerful picture book about race, family, and growing up is an essential purchase for every library’s collection, putting words to an impossible and necessary conversation, and giving children whose families don’t have “the talk” a window for understanding and an opportunity for compassion and change.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Williams’ narration is shaped by a convincing, youthful first-person voice, and Uchendu’s powerful art conveys both the joyful energy of childhood and the pain of adults who can’t shield children from a racist world….A loving approach to sharing painful realities with children, this book strikes a chord.” —Kirkus, starred review
“This portrayal of a close-knit family and Jay’s Black kid joy is as warmhearted as it is resolute, while digitally rendered illustrations by debut artist Uchendu depict desaturated instances of racial prejudice as well as brightly hopeful portraits of Black luminaries, providing an emotive realism to Jay’s maturation and his family’s greatest fears and dreams.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The warm illustrations hint at the racism the protagonist experiences but more prominently capture the love he feels in his home, and the focus on characters over setting allows for Williams’ words to soar.”—Booklist