Where We Come from

(Author) (Author)
& 3 more

Product Details

$18.99  $17.66
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
9.3 X 11.1 X 0.5 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

John Coy is the author of young adult novels, the 4 for 4 middle-grade series, and nonfiction and fiction picture books including Hoop Genius, Game Changer, Their Great Gift, Dads, and If We Were Gone. He has received numerous awards for his work including a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and the Burr/Warzalla Award for Distinguished Achievement in Children's Literature. John lives by the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), and Dream Country (Dutton, 2018) young adult novels that won Minnesota Book Awards. Gibney is faculty in English at Minneapolis College, where she teaches writing. A Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow, her new book, Botched, explores themes of transracial adoption through speculative memoir (Dutton, 2023). She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin is a Korean American poet, fiction writer, nonfiction writer, editor, and educator. Her books include four collections of poetry: The Wet Hex (Coffee House Press, 2022); Unbearable Splendor (Coffee House Press, 2016, Minnesota Book Award winner); Rough, and Savage (Coffee House Press, 2012); and Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press, 2006, Asian American Literary Award). Her poetry has been supported with fellowships and grants from the MacDowell Residency, the Archibald Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She lives in Minneapolis near Minnehaha Creek.
Diane Wilson is an award-winning writer, speaker, and editor. Her work includes Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past (2006), Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life (2011), and The Seed Keeper (2021) which won the Minnesota Book Award. Her essays have been featured in many publications, including We Are Meant to Rise; Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations; and A Good Time for the Truth. Wilson is a Mdewakanton descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation.
Dion MBD, because Dionisius Mehaga Bangun Djayasaputra is way too long to remember, is an Indonesian illustrator/designer who lives and works between Brooklyn and Bandung. Dion received his Illustration BFA from Ringling College of Art Design in Florida where he grew his fascinations with clouds. In his down time, Dion is either cooking, listening to John Mayer, or cloud watching.


"This title captures the universal and individual stories of four authors and their ancestors, both distant and recent. The authors identify as Dakota, Korean American, Black and Irish American, and Irish and Scottish American. Together they present the story of humanity and its development and struggle up to today. Readers will find myriad connections with their own stories and be encouraged to go and collect the stories that make up their history. Rich back matter adds, without overwhelming, to the understanding of this complex and captivating presentation of the human journey as experienced by these four authors and the illustrator. The illustrations capture images from the language as well as evocative emotion, filling the pages beautifully and extending the stories while simultaneously inviting readers to share their own images of family, ancestry, and connections. VERDICT Outstanding in all ways, this title deserves a place in most collections and adds a wonderful opportunity for upper elementary students (and higher!) to unpack our complicated histories."--starred, School Library Journal

-- "Journal" (12/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"Presenting in terms as universal as stardust and as specific as Minneapolis, four authors (Coy, Shannon Gibney, Sun Yung Shin, and Diane Wilson) describe the common and varying elements of their backgrounds. Touching on evolution, the text begins by connecting all life on earth to single-celled organisms. A two-page spread then introduces four sets of feet, connected to larger images that demonstrate that the authors' stories relate respectively to Indigenous people, Korea, immigrants on a boat, and Africa. As the authors describe customs and beliefs of people from Ireland, Scotland, and Korea; consider the importance of plants and the land to Dakhota people; and remember the ancestors brought to America by force, they individually and collectively tell the story of how this country has developed and how many unique parts are reflected in people today. Four larger portraits at the end return to the image of footsteps, showing how the past contributes to the present. Children and adults will find much to study and contemplate in this unique and ambitious work."--Booklist

-- "Journal" (10/15/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"In this dreamy mosaic of stories, four authors share their family histories, spirituality and cultures from ancient times to the present, lyrically capturing the moving and endless variety of American experiences.
The far-reaching and poetic Where We Come From explores the multitudes of identity that make up every individual. Diane Wilson (The Seedkeeper), Sun Yung Shin (The Wet Hex), Shannon Gibney (See No Color) and John Coy (Hoop Genius) begin their individual stories as one: "We come from single cells evolving over billions of years as did all life on Earth--bacteria, trees, animals!" Over subsequent engagingly illustrated pages, the authors move through time, still as a united "we" "We come from place, language, and spirit. And each of us comes from story." The voices then divide into four and work toward present days, taking turns (in first-person singular now) chronicling their origins as Dakota, Black and Irish American, Korean American and Irish and Scottish American. The pieces of their lives are sometimes revealed coyly, hinting at a deep, rich ancestry: "I come from the breath of plants, the sweet sap of trees, roasted corn, first medicine water, parched wild rice, bison meat sizzling fat on hot coals--gifts from the land." Other times the authors are direct and forthcoming: "I come from Black folks in Mississippi who loved the land but had to leave it behind to stand up, to find enough space for we who were coming."
The digital art of Indonesian illustrator Dion MBD (Every Day: The Graphic Novel) provides a warm and layered foundation for the developing stories. He uses light and shadow to lovely effect, and weaves almost mystical elements into the imagery. In one series of spreads, four children--the four voices--are loosely outlined. Within and surrounding their frames are images from their family cultures: books, cityscapes, dancers, snowball fights. Rather than creating one tightening thread that brings the narratives together into a single American story, the overall feel of Where We Come From is that of a glorious hodgepodge. Back matter elaborates on the specific nonfiction details of the stories and illustrations, providing context and a fuller background to the poetic, mystical-sounding text.
This beautifully illustrated paean to the endless variety of American experiences is a terrific response to the sometimes insensitive query: "No, but where do you really come from?" --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor
Shelf Talker: This collaboration of American voices offers an unusual and honest look at the complexity of identity." --Shelf Awareness

-- "Website" (9/7/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"Four authors tell their stories, not just of the places they lived, but of the history, culture, and spirit of their beings: where they truly come from.

Initially, when describing humanity's commonalities, this poetic text begins, 'We come from . . .' (stardust and single-celled organisms, etc.). Then the refrain becomes, 'I come from . . .' for the remainder of the book, with the authors each sharing aspects of their own backgrounds. The four authors represent a diverse array of experiences (Wilson is Dakota, Shin is Korean American, Gibney is Black and Irish American, and Coy is Irish and Scottish American), describing places, folklore, history, and personal memories that range from painful to joyous, taking turns in fixed order without using names. Digital illustrations represent both the historical and spiritual aspects of the text, but many of the human figures lack details and don't engage emotionally. It's a tall order: Some pages address sweeping historical contexts, such as the European slave trade, while others mention specific details, such as Native American boarding schools or the Korean invention of movable type. Readers may be distracted by tracking which author is speaking, as the book offers neither clear delineations of voice nor a comprehensive cohesion of content and style. Rather, what emerges is a quilt of many details that gives the reader less a feeling of understanding one person but more a sense of the rich tapestry that is America. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Individual details form a warm and inclusive, though scattered, view of humanity."--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal" (7/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)