Kin: Rooted in Hope

By Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrators Illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher Simon & Schuster Imprint Atheneum ISBN


Kin: Rooted in Hope

In stock


Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism,Illustrations/Images: Disturbing Imagery,Social Issue: Slavery in Historical Context

A powerful portrait of a Black family tree shaped by enslavement and freedom, rendered in searing poems by acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford and stunning art by her son Jeffery Boston Weatherford.

I call their names:

Abram Alice Amey Arianna Antiqua

I call their names:

Isaac Jake James Jenny Jim

Every last one, property of the Lloyds,

the state’s preeminent enslavers.

Every last one, with a mind of their own

and a story that ain’t yet been told.

Till now.

Carole and Jeffery Boston Weatherford’s ancestors are among the founders of Maryland. Their family history there extends more than three hundred years, but as with the genealogical searches of many African Americans with roots in slavery, their family tree can only be traced back five generations before going dark. And so from scraps of history, Carole and Jeffery have conjured the voices of their kin, creating an often painful but ultimately empowering story of who their people were in a breathtaking book that is at once deeply personal yet all too universal.

Carole’s poems capture voices ranging from her ancestors to Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman to the plantation house and land itself that connects them all, and Jeffery’s evocative illustrations help carry the story from the first mention of a forebear listed as property in a 1781 ledger to he and his mother’s homegoing trip to Africa in 2016. Shaped by loss, erasure, and ultimate reclamation, this is the story of not only Carole and Jeffery’s family, but of countless other Black families in America.

Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. Bibliography. Black-and-white illustrations were rendered in scratchboard and digitally.
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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up—Weatherford and her son have created a poetic meditation on the process of researching ancestry, with a specific focus on those who are descended from those who were enslaved. Told in many voices, these poems tell the story of a long line of individuals who were removed from Senegal and taken to the Chesapeake Bay. The Weatherfords imagine the lives of those who couldn't have recorded their own as they weave together a narrative of their ancestors. Poems include chilling information drawn from primary sources, including inventory documents that placed a value on human lives. These sections are evocative of similar sections in Julius Lester's Day of Tears. The poem "Partus Sequitur Ventrem/Offspring Follows Belly" introduces the concept that during this time babies born to enslaved women were also slaves. Dramatic scratchboard illustrations throughout the book allow the tone of the poems to switch swiftly from lighter to darker topics, using design to prepare readers for some of the more difficult content. Author's and illustrator's notes provide context, and a bibliography offers sources for additional research. VERDICT A unique book that will be appreciated by the right readers, especially those familiar with Kwame Alexander's The Door of No Return.—Kristin L. Anderson

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