Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment (Parker Curry & Jessica Curry)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment, written by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, and illustrated by Brittany Jackson.

One rainy day, Parker’s mom suggests that they take a trip to the museum. Along with her little sister Ava, her best friend Gia, and Gia’s mom, the group spends a few hours looking at the beautiful art. The imaginations of the three young girls allows the art to come alive, leaping from the canvas in games of make-believe. Just as they are about to leave, Parker notices a portrait she’s never seen before: a beautiful black woman in a vibrant gown. She has warm eyes that remind Parker of all the precious women in her life, and even of herself. Parker is mesmerized by the painting – who is this woman? A queen? Her mom explains that the woman is Michelle Obama, an accomplished lawyer, activist, writer, leader, mother, First Lady and more. Parker marvels at this, and just as the other portraits had came alive, so does this one – with the endless possibilities open to her, and all that she can achieve… all with a little inspiration.

Fantastic. Based on the viral photos of the real-life Parker’s reaction to Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama, the coauthors do a phenomenal job of not only capturing this adorable moment, but illustrating exactly why it was so much more than only that. More than a cute anecdote, the story explores the importance of representation and how it can inspire and motivate young people in incomparable ways. The buildup of the girls imagining paintings to life is charming and fun, and dovetails perfectly when Parker, seeing Obama and hearing of all her achievements (perfectly illustrated on a spread that literally surrounds Parker in titles and adjectives the former First Lady has embodied), is inspired to view herself capable of achieving all of her own goals. Jackson’s artwork has the magic of a modern fairy tale, featuring wide-eyed, playful characters and stunning interpretations of the National Portrait gallery and the works housed within. The length is perfect, and JJ and I loved it. A lovely tale that captures a moment, cementing it for future dreamers. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Be Bold, Baby!: Michelle Obama (Alison Oliver)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Be Bold, Baby!: Michelle Obama by Alison Oliver, an adorable and inspirational board book primer for the 44th First Lady.

Be bold. Be brilliant! Be an ally. Be inspired by the ones you love, be encouraging of the ones you inspire in return. These motivational statements are accompanied on each page with an illustration that follows former First Lady Michelle Obama through her life of accomplishment: from eager student (“Be brilliant!”) to powerful lawyer and urban works organizer, to young mother (“Be loving.”), to health and education activist as First Lady and beyond (“Be inspirational.”). Also included are a smattering of quotes from Michelle and a short, toddler-friendly biography in the back. The book concludes with a mirror for little readers to see themselves, with the most important sentiment of all: “Be you!”

Lovely! The simple, bold rallying cries of the text pair nicely with the vibrantly colorful illustrations, which use simple color- and pattern-block shapes to construct engaging characters and scenes. The quotes included are well-chosen, though I could have stood to have seen a few more with broader appeal; “I want to be this really fly 80-, 90-year old,” is a fun quote, but she‘s said a great many other things about the importance of physical fitness that might be a bit more inspiring to young readers. However, the abundance of unabashed girl power more than makes up for it. It’s even a nice touch that Barack is only mentioned briefly at the end of the bio – Michelle is so often tied in people’s minds to him and his accomplishments, it’s nice that this book solely focuses on all the work she has done and achievements she has made all on her own. The length is great, the mirror is a great touch that the youngest readers will love, and JJ and I both enjoyed it greatly. Baby Bookworm approves!