"This mighty, moving picture book for all ages tells truths about slavery with bold poetic power"
March 2023 Book of the Month
Companion to the brilliant The Undefeated, Kwame Alexander’s Unspoken achieves the seemingly impossible, beginning with the question: “How do you tell a story/that starts in Africa/ and ends in horror/An unbelievable story/about evil plans/and big guns/hiding in the night/waiting”.
Presented as a teacher talking to their pupils about slavery, this bold, poetic masterwork speaks to multiple ages. Add to that Dare Coulter’s powerful illustrations — portraits and scenes that speak to the soul — and you have a tremendous book that will be appreciated and treasured for years as a testament to truth, bravery, struggle and survival.
We learn of the “sly men from cold places” who shackled African people in their ships, and the unpaid, backbreaking labour Black children were forced to do while their white counterparts “ate their candy/and played tag/before school”. We read of “families torn apart, sold like cattle”. And we also bear witness to fighting back, standing up and speaking out, before the answer to that opening question is presented – the story is told “by being brave enough/to lift your voice”.