Where do you come from? Where do your ancestors come from? How was their home, their country, their culture? This poetic and fervent book for young children was co-authored by four notable Minnesota writers, each from a different background: Native writer Diane Wilson is Dakota; poet and essayist Sun Yung Shin is Korean-American; Essayist and mid-level novelist Shannon Gibney is Black and Irish American, and children’s author John Coy is Irish and Scottish American.
Illustrated by Indonesian artist Dion MBD, ‘Where We Come From’ highlights both the differences and the commonalities of all peoples – all of whom he says originated from stardust and myth.
“We come from one place, one language and one spirit,” reads the text. “And each of us comes from history.” The voices are loud and lively. “I come from a long line of dark-haired women who washed rice, spun silk and wrote poems.” “I come from my grandmother’s garden, picking warm berries from the sun.”
Illustrations show similarities and differences – on one page Irish people planting potatoes juxtaposed with West Africans harvesting yams and okra.
This story is tough – slaves, people fleeing famine and migrations of all kinds. But the stories will almost certainly spark questions and stories from young readers of the book.
“Where We Came From” will launch at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Red Balloon Bookstore, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, with a second event at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Moon Palace, 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., deputies. The authors will also sign books at 2 p.m. on Oct. 19 in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where the book launched the “Stars of the North” storytelling exhibit in Concourse C.
Laurie Hertzel is the editor of books at the Star Tribune. On Twitter: @StribBooks.