Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre – Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper


 Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre – Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Carolrhoda Books, 978-1541581203, 2021

Format: Hardcover picture book

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 What did you like about the book? An empowering but yet deeply sad book about the Tulsa Race Massacre. The author begins the story telling readers about all of the amazing things that existed in Tulsa in this black community. It highlighted that the community not only had a booming economy but that there was an excellent school system. Most importantly the author allows readers to see that the people of Tulsa were proud. They were proud of Black Wall Street, they were proud of their achievements and most importantly they were proud to be Black. Often when we read books about injustices against Black and Brown people it is often only centered on the things and people we lost. They often only focus on the negative aspects of the injustice. However, the people of Tulsa were living proof that even after the decades of slavery Black people were able to rise again and create this community. This is the way we should tell stories to children about these moments in history. The sad parts are important but the joy is just as important. The book begins telling us about the community when the days were good. I did not actually know, prior to reading this book, the starting point of the creation of Black Wall Street and the community that lived around it. The author somehow puts a robust amount of history without it feeling overly wordy. The transition into the massacre was also a historical fact that I did not know and unfortunately was not shocked about. These poignant moments in the book really make readers reflect about what has really changed for Black people in America. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. From the cover of the book to the back cover. The detail to the historical accuracy of the illustrations is phenomenal as well. Although, there are not many bright color schemes in this book, in the pages that describe the beginning times you felt more of the elegance and sophistication of the people during those times. 

Anything you did not like about the book? No, this was a wonderful book.

 To whom would you recommend this book? This book is for children ages 8 – 13.  At this point in their educational careers they will have either never heard of the Tulsa Massacre or they have only heard very few details. This book is for the young reader who still has more questions. The reader wants to know how the people lived before they burned down their beautiful town. 

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and Middle schools

Where would you shelve it?  976.6

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? YES!

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Rose Metayer, Boston Latin School, Boston MA

Date of review:  03/17/2021

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