Author: Jordan Collins
Illustrator: Phil Lesnie
Published: July 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
I received a copy of Where? from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A passionate, personal and political picture book that calls out racism from an important new voice, illustrated by the acclaimed artist of Feathers.
What they mean is,
‘Why is your skin that colour?’
‘Why does your hair look like that?’
I am from the mountains,
The seas and the sky.
I am from children of millions of years,
A timeline of humanity.
I am from this planet
And all others.
A heartfelt picture book that challenges racism from an exciting new voice that is both a cry of pain and a demonstration of inner strength, which takes us on an intergalactic journey past collapsing stars and glowing nebulae to remind us not of our differences but of our shared humanity.
It’s no secret that I adore picture books, but I don’t think anyone would dispute that there are tiers of picture books that work in very different ways. I’m a huge fan of picture books that take the prevalent topics in our society and do the work of making that present for younger readers.
Where? is an incredibly powerful slam poem that has been translated into a picturebook. When it was first written, Jordan Collins was only fourteen, and was responding to the way that people were constantly asking them where they were from. When you read the book/poem it’s easy to see, hear and feel the frustration at being judged from ‘where you’re from’ rather than ‘who you are.’ And, at the same time, the hope and optimism for changing the way we think about others, and the strengths everyone has inside of them also shines through.
The word choice in this book is incredible and evocative and will certainly make for a great read aloud, but also to talk about the impact words can have. Jordan Collins has an incredible voice that shines through their writing.
And, because no picturebook is complete without pictures, the illustrations in Where? are simply stunning. Phil Lesnie has done a wonderful job of bringing Jordan’s words to life on the page. Every illustrated page is one that you could stop at, before reading, and just sit and think about what it’s telling you and what it means to you.
This is a gorgeous book that definitely belongs in everyone’s picturebook collections.