Review by Crystal Williams Hope loves going to the country every summer to visit her Aunt Poogee. Hope recounts the events she loves most from these visits, like Aunt Poogee's stories and the marketplace where they run into old friends like Mr. Stewart (whom Aunt Poogee calls Stew-pot because of his big potbelly ), and Miss Teacup Hill (so-named because when she was born, she was so small her mama used a teacup for a cradle ). It's stories like these that add to the richness of the book. These characters are realistic and full of life.
Once, while at the market, Miss Violet asks Aunt Poogee if Hope is mixed. Understandably, six-year-old Hope is upset by Miss Violet's question. Hope even asks Aunt Poogee for an explanation but is told, Baby, don't you pay Violet no never mind. During the rest of the day, she and Aunt Poogee snap peas, eat dinner, and finally, when it's bed time, Aunt Poogee tells the story of how Hope got her name a tale about immigrants and slavery, civil rights and freedom. Finally, Hope is told to answer questions like Miss Violet's with, Yes, I am generations of faith Ã”mixed' with lots of love! I am Hope! Hope isn't only a story about a little girl's biracial ancestry; it's also a story about African-American cultural heritage and the power of storytelling. Isabell Monk has written a simple, intimate tale, laying a good foundation for parents and children to discuss the meaning of diversity, history, and family. Janice Lee Porter's illustrations work seamlessly with the text, creating a powerful statement with colors as bright and vibrant as Aunt Poogee's pink Cadillac. In a world that is increasingly diverse, Hope offers a great story about America's growing population of biracial people. Here we find that history and heart merge to provide children with a very clear idea of what makes human beings special our ability to love each other, no matter what color we are.
Crystal Williams is a poet pursuing her MFA at Cornell University.