Inspirational is the word for this glowing picture-book biography, framed by the fictional story of a small African American boy who asks his loving, single-parent mom to tell him about Barack Obama. With fast free verse (“His family stretched / from Kansas to Kenya; / his mama, white as whipped cream, / his daddy, black as ink”) and big, handsome illustrations, Coretta Scott King Award winners Grimes and Collier tell the story of Obama’s life. Beginning with his childhood in Hawaii, double-page spreads show him interacting with kids from all over the world. Despite the sadness of his parents getting divorced, both inspire him to find hope in education, and he learns to confront racism (“hurt and hate and history”), and is moved to help the poor. Grimes’ stirring words and Collier’s watercolor-and-collage pictures convey the power of diversity to make a “new whole.” On each spread a small box displays the running conversation between the boy and his mother, and his final comment is: “When I grow up, I want to be the president.”
Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin’s Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.