"Tracing the history of Black Americans since 1900 through five generations of one family, this creative book also connects events and cultural shifts with particular lines in the song, underscoring their relevance during certain times. . . . With clarity and warmth, the illustrations sensitively capture the changing characters, emotions, and eras as time passes. . . . Well-structured, original story. . . . Dovetailing nicely with the books that introduce the song itself, this moving picture book celebrates it as a ‘symbol of faith, brilliance, resistance, and resilience.’"
From YOUTH SERVICES BOOK REVIEW, Starred Review:
"A touching and proud tribute to the Black National Anthem . . . The combination of the art and text manages to give a great sense of time and place, without disturbing the lyrical flow of the narrative. The endpapers feature the lyrics to the song. The book closes with a note from the author about her own connection to the song and about important performances over the years."
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
"Lyons delivers the history of a song that has inspired generations of African-Americans to persist and resist in the face of racism and systemic oppression. . . . Vibrant, realistic illustrations and painstaking facial detail. . . . Bold colors lend emotion to scenes of hope and adversity. . . . All the while, each generation passes the lyrics along, and a final page urges readers to ‘keep singing . . . keep on keeping on.’ A heartfelt history of a historic anthem."
"Lyons writes with rhythmic warmth, weaving the lyrics into her story. . . . Mallett’s artwork charmingly illumines the faces of the singers in the book, revealing their passion and often joy in singing what’s become cherished as the African American national anthem. . . . A beautiful celebration of a song that continues to give life to African Americans."
From THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS:
"There are plenty of picture-book editions illustrating James Weldon Johnson’s text of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ but the song’s historical impact is often relegated to an afterword. Lyons makes that impact the focus of this narrative. . . . Lyons deftly weaves the song into the family’s everyday life while also using that quotidian existence to emblematize historical experiences. . . . Her storytelling cadence makes rewarding use of repetition, emphasizing the generational replication and adding a lyrical lilt to the prose. . . . This may open youngsters’ eyes to the personal side of history and prompt some sharing by the adults in their lives."
Round-ups, Reviews & Interviews: