Inheritance: a visual poem by Elizabeth Acevedo, illustrated by Andrea Pippins


Inheritance: a visual poem by Elizabeth Acevedo, illustrated by Andrea Pippins. Quill Tree Books, 2022. 9780062931948

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

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Poetry

What did you like about the book? Acevedo’s powerful poem Inheritance is one of her most famous spoken word pieces, originally titled Hair. Here it has been expanded to include gorgeous illustrations by Andrea Pippin that give the poem even more depth. Acevedo is Dominican American and originally wrote the poem because her mother told her to “fix her hair.” In the poem, she explains the ancestral meaning and power of her curly, gorgeous hair and the racism and colorism she has experienced. Throughout she brings the message back to the importance of accepting, embracing, and celebrating Black hair and the ways that acceptance honors ancestors. The images complement that message perfectly. On a two page spread with images of Black girl hair in many different permutations, the poem reads,  “Did our ancestors imagine that their great-grandchildren would look like us? / And would try to escape them how we do?” 

In short, the writing is gorgeous (I can hear her voice!);  the illustrations are beautiful; and the total package is stunning. What a gift. I absolutely love this poetry volume and I can’t wait to share it with students!

Anything you did not like about the book? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone who enjoys poetry!

Who should buy this book?  All middle schools, high schools, and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Poetry nonfiction (811)

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes and then go watch the spoken word! Recent performance here

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: May 26, 2022

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