A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2023
Based on the viral poem by Coretta Scott King honoree Junauda Petrus, this picture book debut imagines a radically positive future where police aren’t in charge of public safety and community well-being.
Petrus first published and performed this poem after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. With every subsequent police shooting, it has taken on new urgency, culminating in the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, blocks from Junauda's home.
In its picture book incarnation, Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers? is a joyously radical vision of community-based safety and mutual aid. It is optimistic, provocative, and ultimately centered in fierce love. Debut picture book artist Kristen Uroda has turned Junauda's vision for a city without precincts into a vibrant and flourishing urban landscape filled with wise and loving grandmothers of all sorts.
Junauda Petrus is a writer, pleasure activist, filmmaker and performance artist, born on Dakota land of Black-Caribbean descent. Her work centers around wildness, queerness, Black-diasporic-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, shimmer and liberation. Her debut novel, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, earned a Coretta Scott King honor. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife and family.
Kristen Uroda is an artist best known for her vibrant, joyful illustrations. Often softly formed yet boldly colored, her work aims to express beauty in the ordinary moments, celebrate the poetry within diverse faces and figures, and tell stories that inspire reflection and social and civic change. While her career started in editorial illustration, she has most recently moved into narrative illustration with her first picture book. She is currently based in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
★ "A reverie of a book, offering criticism delivered with honey about our current state of affairs. It’s not at all as far-fetched as it sounds."—School Library Journal, starred review
★ “Lush, luminous, and celebratory, the words and images of this poem turned picture book offer a powerful meditation on intergenerational bonds and community care. [With] jewel-bright illustrations…this moving portrait of a precinct-free world…[capture] the vivacious energy of elders “comfortable in loving fiercely” that’s reflected in the language’s soaring weightlessness.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Unconditional love and community-based care lay at the heart of this radical and linguistically delicious picture book that invites conversations about relationships in communities of color. Uroda’s luminous illustrations capture the verve, courage, and sensuality of grandmas (who sometimes look like grandpas—a nod to gender inclusivity and complex grand-families); the richness of Black and brown communities; and the resources they possess to heal their own wounds."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review