Words burn bright in this joyful celebration of rap, creativity, and self-expression.
“Welcome to the cypher!
Now huddle up nice and snug.
You feel that circle around you?
Well, that’s a hip hop hug!”
Starting with beatboxes and fingersnaps, an exuberant narrator introduces kids in his community to the powerful possibilities of rap, from turning “a simple phrase/into imagery that soars” to proclaiming, “this is a voice that represents me!” As Khodi Dill’s rhymes heat up, the diverse crew of kids—illustrated in Awuradwoa Afful’s bold, energetic style—gain self-confidence and a sense of freedom in this wonderful picture book debut that is perfect for reading aloud.
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Average rating from 8 members
The pictures in this book are fantastic and this would make a great addition to a class poetry unit. A nice book to show children a different way they can express themselves.
Words have power, no matter how they are used. A wizened narrator invites the reader to join a dynamic group of children as he explains the nuances of the art form that is rap. Together, the children experiment with words, beatboxing, and rhythm as they prepare for an open-mic performance of their newfound skills. Though it can be intimidating to speak one’s mind in front of others, these brave children step onstage and pour their hearts out. Told through poetic phrasing, this story teaches how rap works while demonstrating it directly. Relaxed and familiar jargon is intermixed with elevated language to create an approachable and rich tapestry of sound as this book is read aloud. Intentional words are emphasized in bold to draw readers’ attention to them, enhancing the performance element described by this story. Dynamic visuals accent the story and are presented in richly vibrant, cheerful, and blocky chunks of color. The children are seen fist bumping, embracing, and standing proudly as they let their voices ring out. Each image pairs expertly with the text, blending together in a balanced and enjoyable way. Profound messages of support, encouragement, and freedom of speech are echoed throughout the book, signaling to all readers that their voices matter. Beautifully executed, young readers will love diving into the world of rap through this book. This auditory and visual journey is an excellent addition to read aloud collections for elementary school-aged readers.