It's fitting to follow that with a co-authored, co-illustrated collection of poems that I first read while evaluating books for the CYBILS awards for poetry. CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? POEMS OF RACE, MISTAKES, AND FRIENDSHIP was a hot contender, in my opinion. Authors Irene Latham and Charles Waters met "virtually" through their mutual love of poetry. Editor Carol Hinz of Carolrhoda Books proposed their collaboration on this project and it was an inspired choice. Illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko completed this multi-racial, honest, and open exploration of the childhood perceptions, misconceptions and relationships.
I expected to enjoy this, but it far exceeded those expectations. The simplicity and directness from each of the two voices allowed me to slide right into their respective identities, into their school and home relationships, into the gradual shifts of their interactions from anxious concern to naturally developing mutual respect and friendship.
The dialogic poems, simple but helpful illustrations, and discreet details from the two lives and points of view offer readers of any age an open door to reflect on privilege and unrecognized bias.
The free verse poems and topics developed provide effective mentor text and present subtle character development from which young writers can learn to "show, don't tell" in their own writing.
Read the Kirkus starred review, HERE, to see why this is a book for today, for Poetry Month, for EVERY month, and for years to come.