A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The main themes come from current events: racial violence, including the killings of George Floyd and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Positive Role Models
The story takes place within a family home. Every member of the family shows compassion and caring for the others, especially when the real world gets scary and threatening.
A loving, supportive, closely connected Black family are the central characters. The story explores police brutality against people of color and other racial violence.
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Violence & Scariness
The storyline refers to the killings of George Floyd and Eric Garner. Through the idea of breathing, the author and illustrator make a connection between the violence of those deaths, the violence implicit in the way the Covid pandemic played out, and a metaphorical sense of people unable to breathe free in our society.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ain't Burned All the Bright is written by New York Times-bestselling author Jason Reynolds (Stuntboy, in the Meantime, Look Both Ways, Long Way Down, and more) and illustrated by Jason Griffin (Reynold's previous collaborator on My Name is Jason). Named a 2023 Caldecott Honor Book, it presents a young boy's observations of how his family reacts to racial uprisings and the Covid-19 pandemic (including his father's quarantine with the disease). The story is told in the form of the boy's journal. Poetic lines build the narrative, which is complemented by mixed-media collages and drawings. The storyline refers to the killings of George Floyd and Eric Garner. Through the idea of breathing, the author and illustrator make a connection between the violence of those deaths, the violence implicit in the way the Covid pandemic played out, and a metaphorical sense of people unable to breathe free in our society.
Is It Any Good?
Beautiful, haunting, and hopeful, this book is another excellent offering from a very gifted and prolific author. For Ain't Burned All the Bright, Jason Reynolds, who's Black, a New York Times-bestselling writer and recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King honors, collaborates with his friend Jason Griffin, who's White. They team up to depict the inner life of a young Black boy in a warm, loving family within a harsh society and world. The book is laid out like a journal on ruled paper, with text and expressionistic drawings that are sometimes gray to reflect sadness, and other times generous with bright, happy colors.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.