News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

The Children's Bookshelf: KIN: Rooted in Hope - February 18, 2024

KIN: Rooted in Hope written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jefferey Boston Weatherford is a fascinating and often heartbreaking account of how they researched their family’s past.

Carole Boston Weatherford had a feeling that her background reached back into the days of slave trading in Maryland. In fact, she did know that she had one enslaved ancestor, namely, her great-great-grandfather Philip Moaney. Her research was done at the Library of Congress, the Maryland Historical Society and the Wye House archives to name a few.

Readers will read stories, written in beautiful poetry, about Fredrick Douglass, Chicken Sue, Katy in the Kitchen, Francis Scott Key, and Polly Cooper speaks of Mary Taylor “Polly” Lloyd. As that poem discusses “We both named Polly. But my name gets called most often.” Polly Cooper dusts and scrubs whereas Miss Polly goes to lessons and sewing circles. “We was both reared in the Great House. Started as playmates. Now, we mistress and servant.”

The author traces the development of Wye House by studying the Lloyds’ Ledger. Her poems are powerful, thought provoking, dynamic and beautifully written.

The illustrations, skillfully done in scratchboard, are striking and support the heart of these poems.

In the Author’s Note the author tells the reader, “I asked my ancestors to speak to, and through, me. These poems conjure their voices. You hear not only from my ancestors, but also from others in the enslaved community.”

KIN: Rooted in Hope written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford is an important book for readers 10 years of age and up (Atheneum Books/ Simon and Schuster) 2023.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and activity questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for KIN: Rooted in Hope

Have you ever heard your parents talking about a member of your family that you did not know? Did you ever see a picture of a family member you did not know? Next, ask your parents who that person was, where that person lived and what that person did for a living. Then, draw your own picture of this lost family member and place it in a frame.

Turn to the Author’s Note in the back of this book. There the author says she has asked her ancestors “to speak to and through me.” Which poems do you feel do that the best?

The fine illustrations are delivered in Scratchboard. Go online and find a description of this art form. Then, look back over the many scratchboard illustrations by Jeffery Boston Weatherford in this book. Which one affects you the most and why?



Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.