by NoNieqa Ramos and illustrated by Paola Escobar
Beauty Woke is a powerful story of pride and community, told with bold lyricism and the heart of a fairy tale. Readers looking for a next-generation Sleeping Beauty will fall in love with the vivid art and lyrical text. For fans of Woke Baby and Dreamers.
Beauty is a Puerto Rican girl loved and admired by her family and community. At first, she’s awake to their beauty, and her own—a proud girl of Taíno, and African descent. But as she grows older, and starts to lose sight of what makes her special because of phrases she overhears meant to make people who look like her feel smaller and scared, her community bands together to help remind her of her beautiful heritage.
Listen to Beauty Woke!
Praise for Beauty Woke…
“Ramos’ poetic ode to identity and validation winds itself through evocative imagery in both English and Spanish, connecting the strength of community with self-acceptance. From one-word stanzas echoing with a mother’s heartbeat to flowing anthems of pride, each page exudes energy and passion. Escobar’s powerful panorama of diversity is a blazing exclamation point to Beauty’s triumphant journey. This bold manifesto of cultural awareness reaches out to awaken the sleepwalkers among us.” – Kirkus, starred reviews
This ode to Puerto Rican culture and Black pride opens as Beauty’s parents prepare for her birth. More than anything, they want their daughter to be safe and loved, so once she is born, they surround her with family and their rich culture. They teach her to become bilingual in English and Spanish and they participate in the Puerto Rican Day parade while Beauty is still too little to march. As Beauty grows older, the self-confidence she was raised to feel takes a hit as she becomes aware of the hate and racism in the world around her. Quickly, her family and neighbors rally, surrounding the girl with positivity, love, and stories of her Taíno and African heritage. They remind her that “Spanish is magic . . . / Black is beauty-ful. / Black is a power.” Through these experiences, Beauty’s pride and confidence in being a Boricua are restored with even greater understanding; the girl is woke. Escobar, who illustrated Anika Aldamuy Denise’s acclaimed Planting Stories (2019), uses influences from graffiti and mural art in this book’s illustrations, a perfect nod to the story’s urban landscape. Her use of color taps into the story’s emotions, and the Puerto Rican flag is woven through much of the artwork. An authentic and affirming celebration of culture, community, and self-acceptance.— Booklist, starred reviews
The remarkable power of words to hurt and to heal is echoed throughout Beauty Woke, the vibrant and uplifting picture book by author NoNieqa Ramos and illustrator Paola Escobar. Blending the genres of poetry and fairy tale, as well as incorporating both Spanish and English, Ramos retells the Sleeping Beauty tale for a modern, culturally diverse, and socially conscious world. While Beauty is still in her mother’s womb, la doctora warns Beauty’s parents of the dangers that lie ahead for their child. Instead of predicting that Beauty will fall into a deep sleep after pricking her finger on a spindle, she advises, “Keep Beauty close./The world ain’t woke./…They got spells./Words that devour./They’ll sentence her to sleep/and take her power.” Beauty’s family does everything they can to surround her with love, pride, and strength, but will it be enough to protect her from the harm that words can do? Paola Escobar’s bold and brilliant digitally rendered illustrations capture the warmth and energy of Beauty’s family and community. A versatile book for ELA, social studies, bilingual, and language classes, Beauty Woke acknowledges the capacity of words to divide and harm, but it honors the capacity of words to offer strength and hope over fear and hate. -Classroom Bookshelf
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