We Could Fly (Hardcover)
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A Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner
"This magical picture book will have readers entranced. Sublime."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In a companion to Build a House, Rhiannon Giddens—winner of multiple Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize and cofounder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops—gives wing to a moving tale of grace and transcendence, with acclaimed artist Briana Mukodiri Uchendu.
At a sparrow’s urging, a young girl feels a mysterious trembling in her arms, a lightness in her feet, a longing to be free. Her mother tells her that her Granny Liza experienced the same, as did many of their people before her. Perhaps it’s time, Mama says, to slip the bonds of earth and join the journey started long ago. To hold each other tight and rise. Drawing on lyrics from the song “We Could Fly” by Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell, which in turn draw on a heritage of African folklore, this incantatory dialogue between a mother and daughter paired with startlingly beautiful illustrations celebrates love, resilience, and the spiritual power of the “old-time ways”—tradition and shared cultural memory—to sustain and uplift.
About the Author
Rhiannon Giddens is a musician, singer, songwriter, author, MacArthur Fellow, Pulitzer Prize winner, founding member of the traditional African American string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and the artistic director at Silkroad. She has won two Grammy Awards and has been nominated for an additional six for her work as both a soloist and a collaborator. Her lifelong mission is to uplift people, particularly Black Americans, whose contributions to American musical history previously have been ignored or erased, and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country’s musical origins. The author of Build a House, illustrated by Monica Mikai, and We Could Fly, illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, Rhiannon Giddens lives in Limerick, Ireland.
Briana Mukodiri Uchendu is an illustrator, visual development artist, and first-generation Nigerian-American. Her new and forthcoming books include The Talk by Newbery Honor winner Alicia D. Williams, Soul Step by New York Times best-selling author Jewell Parker Rhodes and Kelly McWilliams, and Night Market by Seina Wedlick. Briana Mukodiri Uchendu lives in Houston, Texas.
The spare, beautiful verses of this powerful song are well suited to a picture book and well laid out among stirring spreads of artwork in Uchendu’s distinctive textured style. . . Drawing inspiration from Virginia Lee Hamilton and Leo and Diane Dillon’s classic folktale collection The People Could Fly, this work wraps readers in a warm embrace. Perfect for bedtime, naptime, storytime, or sharing in schools, this magical picture book will have readers entranced. Sublime.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A Black mother and daughter draw on the resilience of their ancestors to process their own generational trauma of slavery in this exceptional story. . . Uchendu’s ethereal depictions of sprawling landscapes are layered with sweeping trails of spirits’ ascents, making the incorporeal visible. . . A magically sublime testimonial to spirituality and ancestral connection, perfect for home or classroom reading with young ones.
—School Library Journal
Folk musician Giddens offers up an evocative, reverent celebration of family and cultural connection through storytelling. . . The gorgeous digital illustrations are dominated by dusky hues of soft violets and rose golds, with the mother and child subtly backlit by a halo-like effect. Sweeping spreads that show the girl’s ancestors taking flight convey a sense of majesty, while close-ups on the girl’s excited face and the mother and daughter’s joining hands are intimate and inviting.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Giddens’s lyrical text is based on her song of the same name. . . The story reminds children of their connection to the past and their ability to transcend their present, and Uchendu’s digital illustrations add to the hopeful and loving feel of the text. . . . this is a great interpretation of a popular African American folktale.
—The Horn Book
Rhiannon Giddens’ lovely picture book will intrigue children who have dreamed about flying. ‘Lyrical’ is an excellent word for the text, which includes bits from her song 'I Knew I Could Fly.' The fact that she’s playing with Black folklore adds emotional and educational heft adults can appreciate, too. . . . [Giddens’] words are elevated by luminous purple, gold and pink illustrations by Houston artist Briana Mukodiri Uchendu.
—The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Any child who’s ever dreamed of flying (so, every child!) will enjoy this magical tale of a girl who does just that.
—We Are Teachers