Reviews for Black girl you are Atlas

Publishers Weekly
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Watson (Maya’s Song) crafts a semi-autobiographical collection that speaks to the girl she was in her youth and the expansive experience of Black girlhood as it cycles toward womanhood via sharp and loving poetry. Accompanied by striking and vintage-feeling multimedia collage artwork by Holmes (Coretta), the poems evolve in step with the protagonist they portray as priorities shift, detailing new fears surrounding never having seen snow before (“snow for me was new/ because I was only three when we left Paterson/ and my tiny feet didn’t know snow”), meeting her father for the first time, learning about injustice, and practicing self-love (“Be a best friend to yourself. Be an enemy only to injustice, to hate.... Be your own hype crew”). Watson utilizes myriad poetic styles to address various topics, such as growing up Jamaican American in Portland, Ore. A series of haiku on sisterhood highlight the poet’s deep admiration of her ancestors, future descendants, and the Black women she grew up with, and poems “A Pantoum for Breonna Taylor” and “A Tanka for Michelle Obama” mourn and laud Black women in equal measure, making for a tender ode to universal yearnings for safety, love, and justice, as well as a celebration of Black girlhood. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Watson’s latest collection of poetry is a powerful mixture of shortform poetry and free verse. The semi-autobiographical poetry collection starts with an exploration of Black girlhood. As readers, we are introduced to shorter poems on seemingly mundane topics, such as roller skates, pressing combs, and Werther’s candy, to more complicated themes of survival, Black identity, and resilience. Watson’s poetry swings like a pendulum, at one moment focusing on the aspects of Black joy and pride that are evident in the poems “Church Press and Curl” and “When I Say I Love Us” and then highlighting the violence and brutality that Black people have to endure in the poems “Knock, Knock” and “A Pantoum for Breonna Taylor.” The poems are accompanied by Holmes’ breathtaking collage art. The art pieces work in tandem with Watson’s poetry, creating the space for a visually stimulating narrative. As readers, we travel through Watson’s early life, highlighting both the struggles and the joy. We end the poetry collection with a piece called “Phenomenon,” where Watson ruminates on the pure magic of Black resilience.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Two acclaimed, award-winning creators team up to present this moving, introspective poetry collection celebrating the possibilities of Black girlhood complemented by atmospheric mixed-media illustrations. Showcasing varied poetic forms such as free verse and tanka, Watson reflects on coming of age as a Black girl in a society that habitually flattens Black experiences into easily digestible stereotypes. The opening poem, “Where I’m From,” is inspired by the work of Puerto Rican writer Willie Perdomo, and it peels back the layers of Watson’s identity, creating a harmonious alchemy of personal and cultural history that incorporates familiar touchstones and inheritances like “east coast hip-hop and island tradition.” Themes of resilience and perseverance are interwoven throughout, exploring how Black girls’ existence is often a testament to survival. Some poems contemplate the trauma that results from systemic racism and misogynoir; “A Pantoum for Breonna Taylor” notes how white supremacy weaponizes the basic necessity of rest: “Breonna, who reminded us that Black women / are not even safe in our sleep.” But Watson doesn’t dwell in despair; she finds safety in the healing power of love. Other poems, including “Lessons on Being a Sky Walker,” are rallying cries, encouraging Black girls to honor their roots and cherish their versatility. Watson’s reconstructions of childhood delights and teenage wounds examine the collision of race, gender, and class. Holmes’ tender, vibrant art enhances the poems. A compelling ode to self-resurrection and Black sisterhood that finds much-needed light in the world’s darkness. (Poetry. 12-18) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
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Gr 7 Up—Drawing from her past memories, Watson encourages Black girls to celebrate themselves with love in this semi-autobiographical collection of poetry. In "Resurrection" she explains, "Renée, the name that means rebirth, to bring new life." Renée is a sense of resilience after the sorrows of her ancestors and the traumas of Rodney King, Anita Hill, Breonna Taylor, and teachers blind to the brilliance of a young Black girl. Joyful childhood recollections include double Dutch, Werther's Original and peppermint candies on Sundays, reggae, dreadlocks, and white sand. Bob Marley, The Jackson 5, and New Edition write a fresh diagram for feet to follow with their songs. The combination of poetry and collage art is exceptionally powerful and dynamic. The imagery provided by the reflective verse is encapsulated exquisitely in tandem with the illustrations. Although pain is present at the intersection of race, gender, and class, it is balanced by the many ways love shows up. Soulful haiku, free verse, and tanka poetry paired with dazzling designs propel the sense of sisterhood that jumps off the page with pride and jubilance. VERDICT Brimming with vibrant, layered poetry and stunningly textured collage art, this ballad for Black girls is a must for all collections.—Lisa Krok