Black Boy Joy
Kaija Langley & Keith Mallett
Full disclosure: Kaija is a close friend of mine. However, even if we had never met (which is honestly very distressing to think about) I would be just as obsessed with this book. Black boy joy? Check. Following dreams? Check. Gender stereotypes? Yeah right.
Langston LOVES to dance. He likes basketball (can’t relate) but looooves ballet (also can’t relate). With stunning illustrations, the reader sees Langston’s story unfold. The book is #BlackBoyJoy to a T, it’s a celebration of the passion for dance that awakened in Langston the first time he saw an Alvin Ailey performance. He has a supportive family that encourage him to practice and persevere, Langston’s mother is a gem and wants him to be happy.
I can only imagine what it would be like to have such a mirror for other young Black boys interested in ballet. It’s a meaningful and tender celebration of finding your true passion. Keith Mallett’s artwork is phenomenal, conveying realism and movement together to celebrate ballet. My favorite spreads I can’t show because *spoilers* but seriously I want them on my wall! Also, stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY in the next day or so and I promise it will be epic!
This book was kindly sent by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are my own!
Kaija Langley was born and raised in Northern N.J. and now lives in Cambridge, MA with her Beloved. She received her bachelor’s from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and an MFA in Fiction from St. Mary’s College of California and spends her time writing novels and picture books, raising money for causes that make the world a better place, and enjoying adventures with her Beloved.
An only child and social introvert, she was raised on a healthy diet of library books, Broadway plays and musicals, and sweltering summers on the family farm in North Carolina. Her picture book debut, When Langston Dances, is about a little Black boy’s first day of ballet (Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 2021). Little boys deserve to see themselves represented in dance, too. It’s also a universal story about courage, perseverance, and triumph that everyone can enjoy.
Keith Duncan Mallett (born October 7, 1948) is an Americanartist who has worked as a painter, etcher and ceramic artist. His subject matter ranges from figurative to still life and abstracts. Mallett’s work has been exhibited worldwide and is featured in corporate and private collections. He has also enjoyed considerable success with numerous sold-out limited-edition prints, and was given the commission to craft the official limited-edition print commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson‘s breakthrough into major league baseball.