Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice is a book that I really wish I did not have to rate. It is a personal experience book that everyone will get something different from it. There are elements you will find to love and to dislike; plus, things in-between. I personally am not a fan of the word “woke” in this context. But I like being “woke” to these events. I just wish there was a different word to use.
And the poets, Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo and Oliva Gatwood and artist Theodore Taylor III try and find other words to be “woke” with and Taylor art is lovely. They are stories/poems on their own. They are powerful and comfortable. A major bonus I found that while many of the poets focus on people of color or other minorities, anyone can relate to the majority of the themes. Each poem and the accompanying art show a subject (identity, equality, justice) and bring it to life. The poems are in a more classic format (they “look” like how poems are traditional created) but have that modern tone to the writing itself.
As mentioned, Taylor’s illustrations are bold and bright. The details work with the text and create the world Browne, Acevedo and Gatwood want to create. Like the poetry itself (or poetry in general), each image is not for everyone, but everyone can find something to like, relate to or learn with.
The ages vary with the listener or reader. The older children will be able to read by themselves (8 to 12), but the format of a picture book might discourage them from picking it up. The picture book crowd themselves might not sit to listen. The themes also might be “above them.” Therefore, you need to know the audience and what they are capable of understanding.