Woke Baby is a book of for the times. “Woke Baby, up before the sun smiles, eyes open./” The illustrated baby of color has two clenched fists and on eye open, one closed. The baby knows what is happening in the world.
“Look at your fists/ fingers curled/ into a panther’s paw/ pointing up up up,/reaching for justice.” A baby reaching for justice? Not likely. This timely book is for the parents and their friends, a coffee table read aloud.
“Look at each toe,/wiggling hello to the sky./ There is no glass ceiling, there is no one to tell you no!/” Is Baby a female? he glass ceiling reference suggests that she is. The next line refers to up on each knee. A reference to taking a knee during the National Anthem at a football game?
“Here is your voice, loud and wailing./ Here are your hands, reaching for what is yours.”
The parents who own this book will be telling their children to stand up and fight, to get woke and stay woke about the racial issues of today. The clever message of a baby demonstrating these behaviors is a more subtle way to say what so many current books about resistance are saying this year. Fight, invite, demonstrate, show up, call, write letters, campaign, vote, revolt.
In 120 words, Mahogany Browne writes the rallying cry for babies, their brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. “Like a good revolutionary,/you never, ever sleep.”
Theodore Taylor III’s baby doesn’t smile or coo but has a look of determination and purpose. The baby is here to carry on with the struggle, to keep the fight going.
The end product is a clever way to tell the world that the status quo is not acceptable. As it says on the jacket flap, Woke Babies grow up to change the world.