When I think about picture book series starring black characters, Linda Trice’s proud and creative Kenya immediately comes to mind. Trice, a 2014 28 Days Later honoree, released the first two books – Kenya’s Word and Kenya’s Song – to critical acclaim. Now, she’s back with another winner – Kenya’s Art (illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, published by Charlesbridge) – a celebration of ingenuity, recycling and family.
Like in earlier titles, Kenya is showcased here as a smart, confident girl whose discoveries empower not just herself but also her friends in Mrs. Garcia’s class. Kenya’s Art was inspired by an assignment Trice, a former Black Studies professor and elementary school teacher, gave her first grade students at PS 80 in Queens, NY (pictured with Trice below). The story follows Kenya’s quest to find something special to share about her spring vacation.
A hallmark of Trice’s Kenya books is their focus on family togetherness and love. That shines in Kenya’s Art too as she longs for a cool vacation experience and Daddy suggests touring a museum. There, they see an exhibit called “Recycle! Reuse! Make Art!” featuring every-day items turned into colorful displays that get Kenya’s imagination spinning. In a sweet scene, Daddy holds her hand, chants the recycling slogan and shares her excitement. Then back at home, the whole family gets in on the fun inspired by what Kenya saw.
Trice’s depiction of a close-knit, supportive family and Hazel Mitchell’s warm, inviting illustrations leave you with a smile. Kenya’s triumph at the end is a victory for her and each child who reads her story.
Learn more about Linda at www.lindatrice.com.