It’s been six months since Metonymy published its first children’s book, and the enthusiasm readers young and old show for Dear Black Girls isn’t waning. Author Shanice Nicole recently shared with us a video clip of a friend reading the book to their toddler, who points at a page and says “Mama.” And it’s that resonance, that ability for Black children to see themselves and their families and communities reflected back in everyday moments of joy and celebration, that is really at the core of what Shanice and illustrator Kezna Dalz say they set out to do with this project.
“I want to normalize the depiction of Black girls in all of their beauty and also all of their normalcy … Kezna and I wanted people to open up the book and see Black girls and children who looked like them or people they knew.”
— Shanice Nicole, in an interview with Trevor Corkum, 49th Shelf
Despite the book’s release in the midst of deep winter and deep COVID, it launched and was celebrated many times over at a series of dynamic virtual events. From an intergenerational Black feminist roundtable hosted by Librairie Racines to a launch at Knowledge Bookstore in Brampton, where Shanice bought some of her first books as a child — these events are online and available for your viewing (or re-viewing) enjoyment. A full list is available here.
Shanice and Kezna were also interviewed a number of times about the journey that led to Dear Black Girls, on CBC Let’s Go, 24 Heures, 49th Shelf and even for a front-page story in the Montreal Gazette. Reviewers meanwhile have praised Kezna’s bold and bright paintings that represent such a wide range of Black girls and Shanice’s unapologetic poem “that grabs readers from the first page.” Read more from The Globe and Mail, Quill and Quire, and the Montreal Review of Books.
We’re still waiting for the day when an in-person read-along can happen — and who knows, maybe we’ll be able to share news of such a gathering sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, those of you who’ve been championing this engaging picture book in the months leading up to and following its release — thanks. And if it’s the first time you’re hearing about it, we hope you’ll find a copy and share it with the people in your life who need what reviewer Shannon Ozirny calls “a powerful, honest affirmation of belonging.”