Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment Book Poster Image
Girl finds role model who looks like her in inspiring tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what it's like to visit an art museum and lists the names and artists of the actual paintings featured in the story in the book's back matter. 

Positive Messages

Looking ar art is fun. Seeing someone who looks like you in a painting hung in a famous museum is inspiring. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

First lady Michelle Obama is seen as little Parker's role model. And Parker, her family and friend model going to a museum as a place of fun and learning. In terms of representation, all the characters are African American. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Parker Looks Up is a picture book that offers fictionalized story inspired by a real photograph that went viral on the internet. Co-authored by young Parker Curry, now 4, and her mom, writer Jessica Curry, the book recounts a day when Parker, her little sister, Ava, and their mom went to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The girls and a friend have fun looking various paintings, then suddenly Parker stops in her tracks and looks up with amazement at the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, asking, "Who is SHE?" Illustrator Brittany Jackson captures the moment a museum-goer had snapped and shared online when Parker was 2, as well as the whole day of discovery at the museum.

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What's the story?

PARKER LOOK UP tells the fictionalized story of a day Parker Curry, her mom, and her little sister, Ava, go to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., where they meet up with a friend and her mom and have fun going through the museum looking at art. (The list of the paintings they see is included in the back matter.) Then suddenly Parker stops in her tracks and looks up with amazement at the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. "She had rich brown skin, just like Parker, and kind, familiar eyes that reminded Parker of ... her mother, her grandmother, her baby sister, Ava, and yes -- even of herself. How could someone look so real and so magical all at the same time?" She asks, "Who is SHE?" Illustrator Brittany Jackson captures that moment -- modeled after the actual moment in 2018 when Parker was 2 and a fellow museum-goer snapped her photo and shared it online. "In that moment, Parker saw more than just a portrait -- she saw a road before her with endless possibilities." 

Is it any good?

This simple story of a litte girl being wowed by a portrait in a museum takes on extra meaning as a little girl's revelation that someone who looks like her could be a famous, glamorous, important person one day. Seeing little Parker make that connection is thriling, and shows the power of representation. Like the expression says, "If you can see it, you can be it." As the first African American First Lady, Michelle Obama was an inspriation to Black girls everywhere, and this book shows the moment a youngster discovered her through art. Brittany Jackson's final illustration and a photo on the back cover show Parker wearing a kid-size version of the dress Obama is wearing in the painting, a cute embodiment of her new role model's style. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the moment of discovering a hero in Parker Looked Up. Have you ever seen a picture or a statue of a famous person or a leader and thought you wanted to be like them? Who was it?

  • Do you like looking art art? Have you been to an art museum? What was your experience there like? Would you like to go again? If you haven't been yet, woudl you like to go? 

  • Does seeing a leader who looks like you make you feel as if you coudl be a leader, too? What leaders have inspired you?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books about art and stories featuring characters of color

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