Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

You've seen the photograph: an adorable African American toddler stares, gobsmacked, at Amy Sherald's portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at Washington, D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery in 2018; now you can read the book.

In Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment, Jessica Curry, Parker's mom and coauthor, decides to take her young daughters to the museum, where they enjoy a range of portraits, as of Albert Einstein ("They saw... a bushy mustache"), before Parker freezes by Obama's image. Although this may seem like a slight premise for a picture book, it's the rare reader who won't be moved when Parker sees herself in Obama's likeness ("She had rich brown skin, just like Parker") and extrapolates her own power ("Parker saw more than just a portrait--she saw a road before her with endless possibilities"). The decorous dazzle of Brittany Jackson's illustrations recalls Mary Blair's work for golden-age Disney. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author