Where? by Jordan Collins and Phil Lesnie
Author Jordan Collins identifies as African-American-Greek-Australian and dark skin and curly hair mean that people are always asking 'Where are you from?'. This book, based on a slam poem Collins wrote as a young teen, is a direct response to that question. It asserts that we are all products of this solar system and this planet that we share. It celebrates our sameness and our shared humanity and ancestors. 'I'm from the interiors of collapsing stars, From the explosion that made the big bang and the iridescent glow of a nebula'. The language used by Collins, and Lesnie's (Feathers) illustrations, are atmospheric and remind us how tiny and insignificant we are compared to the vastness of this world and its origins. 'I came from the same ancestor as you, The primate who decided to walk upon two legs for the first time'. It's a lesson in perspective and significance. It's about focussing on the big questions and looking at the big picture. For many people the question 'Where do you come from?' is a complex one and there is no easy way to answer. Collins says in a note at the back of the book that this was written to give hope to other kids and let them know they aren't alone in feeling othered, but it also gives those same kids a way to answer the question as well as hopefully showing everyone why it's not a welcome or meaningful way to get to know someone. As Phil Leslie's note says 'Instead, ask me what I'm reading at the moment. You'll see my face light up. That's where I'm really from.' This is a powerful book with an overt yet important message.
Themes: Belonging, Identity.