Many Shapes of Clay is breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. The design and color palette are stunning, and the contents even more so. No one wants to have to discuss loss and healing from grief with young people, but death is an occurrence that impacts us all. Especially with the pandemic that’s still very much happening (please get vaccinated if you can!) there is need for healing from the global trauma that has affected us for the last 18 months.
In this story, Eisha is given a piece of clay by her mother, who is a ceramicist. Eisha wonders why her mom doesn’t play with anything she makes, it sits on a shelf. Her mother explains that some things are too delicate to touch all the time, and Eisha decides she’ll make something and be patient with it. Awash with memories, she forms a yellow something.
Many Shapes of Clay is tender, bittersweet, and focused on walking with grief rather than suppressing it. Eisha learns from her mother that when things happen, we can choose how we react to it. The message of this book is so important, not even just from a grief and loss standpoint. Unexpected things happen all the time, things that are out of our control. Being able to cope with change and our reactions is a valuable skill to teach, and to bring into the classroom for the new school year.
This book was kindly sent by Prestel, but all opinions are my own.
Kenesha Sneed is an award winning multi-disciplinary artist and Creative Director—whose work speaks to empowerment, the Black female experience, with a balance of purposeful color and forms.
This Los Angeles native—who creates objects and textiles under the name Tactile Matter, will be releasing her forthcoming children’s book Many Shapes of Clay, in Spring 2021— written and illustrated by Kenesha, published by Prestel Publishing, Random House.