7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #772: Featuring Ekua Holmes

h1 December 5th, 2021 by jules

“Azaria’s house is next to the park. That girl can really jump some rope! She can do Double Dutch on one leg at a time. She can turn around and touch the ground. She can jump by herself with two ropes. She can even dance, jupm, and dream of winning a shiny trophy one day, all at the same time. When she flies down the street, swinging her rope, she lifts her long brown legs as high as the sun.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


I think that the smartest way I can tell you about Tricia Elam Walker’s Dream Street (Anne Schwartz Books, November 2021), illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is to suggest you read Dr. Michelle Martin’s review of it at the Horn Book, because she does such an eloquent job of describing it (“a stunning work of art that ­dismantles stereotypes about Black communities and portrays a place where love abounds”). The book, as another review notes, is more like a string of character studies than it is a story. It captures the lives, brief histories (in some instances), and aspirations of the members of the community on Dream Street, “the best street in the world!” Evidently, it’s based on the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston where the author and illustrator grew up together as cousins. There is even a spread featuring two young girls, one drawing and one writing: “The cousins dreams that someday they’ll create a picture book together about everyone they know and meet on Dream Street.”

Readers meet Mr. Sidney, a retired mail carrier; Belle, who longs to one day be a lepidopterist; Ms. Sarah, who has “stories between the lines of her face that she’ll share when you come close”; Zion, who wants to be a librarian when he grows up; Dessa Rae, who falls asleep in the garden behind her house with her grandbaby, Little Song, in her lap; and more. The author brings these people to life with tenderness, precision, and reverence, closing with an achingly beautiful note. It is a statement made profound by the reality that it is not true for children everywhere, but it is true for the children in this book, at this moment, on this street — and it is what me must all strive for:

The children who live and play on Dream Street can become whatever and whoever they want, because their dreams are nourished and cared for, just like Dessa Rae’s flowers. There is no need to worry or to rush. They take their time, growing and playing, learning and living, and soaring skyward toward all the adventures that await them.

Each of these profiles features a collaged portrait from Holmes, and each of them is remarkably textured. The tiny copyright-page note states that the illustrations were created with found and created papers, fabric, and acrylic paint, and they are exquisite. Just look at the image that opens this post — the beguiling perspective, the movement, those COLORS. Two more of these magnificent spreads are pictured below. Be sure to click on them to see them in their entirety and with the text.


“Each morning, unless it’s raining, Mr. Sidney reads the newspaper on his stoop, dressed ‘to the nines,’ Ms. Sarah likes to say. ‘What’s the nines?’ a child will ask, and Ms. Sarah will answer, ‘Fancy, fancy!’ Mr. Sidney is a retired mail carrier living his dream of never having to wear a uniform again. He tips his big brown fedora and greets everyone with, ‘Don’t wait to have a great day. Create one!'”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“Belle catches butterflies in a jar when they fly near Ms. Sarah’s birdbath, but she always lets them go before too long. ‘Everything has a right to be free,’ she says. ‘And every butterfly is different. Just like snowflakes and people and dreams.’ Belle wants to become a scientist who studies butterflies. She says there’s a special name for it:
a lepidopterist.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


DREAM STREET. Text copyright © 2021 by Tricia Elam Walker. Jacket art and interior illustrations copyright © 2021 by Ekua Holmes and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Anne Schartz Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Ice-skating!

2) Although work interrupted my watching of it, Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary is pretty incredible.

3) The 1619 podcast …

4) … and teachers like this.

5) Celeste Barber.

6) It’s the time of year to turn up Sufjan’s Stevens’s 49 seconds of holiday awesomeness. I haven’t danced around the house to this at least ten times this week or anything.



7) Last, but far from least, Jason Reynolds on Colbert’s show this week:



What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #772: Featuring Ekua Holmes”

  1. Dream Street is a dream book for all libraries. What luscious illustrations.
    Jules, ice skating and yes! That Jason Reynolds interview.
    My Kicks:
    1. Planting violas (winder pansies) for color on grey days.
    2. Gathering with friends at a party.
    3. Finished All That She Carried by Tiya Miles. Powerful.
    4. Also finished The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier.
    5. Dinner with Chuck at a long time fave, DiNicola’s.
    6. Creating.
    7. A writing class on Saturday morning,
    Have a great week.

  2. What gorgeous illustrations. Another one I’ll be buying multiple copies of – I feel like my need to surround myself with beautiful children’s books might rival SATC Carrie’s need for expensive shoes.

    Jules – That Jason Reynolds interview!!!! Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that. Hooray for ice skating, dancing to Christmas music, and Celeste Barber.

    Jone – Yay for holiday parties and going out to dinner and planting violas for the PNW’s grey days.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Getting dressed up to go to a fancy holiday work dinner and seeing friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in 2 years!
    2) Watched What’s Up, Doc? as part of the Screwball Comedy movie club I’m in, and just laughed and laughed. Such a silly, charming, funny movie.
    3) Getting Christmas letters mailed out to the international friends. (Hopefully they’ll arrive in time.)
    4) Doing a major paring down so happy to be bringing several bags of clothes to donate today – with one big bag full of winter coats and sweaters.
    5) Playing tennis on a rare non-rainy day. Very out of practice, but it was fun to run around in the cold.
    6) The mailings I get from subscribing to Shing Yon Khor’s patreon. Shing wrote and illustrated the National Book Award Finalist graphic novel The Legend of Auntie Po and is so incredibly talented and creative.
    7) Walking Daisy in the freezing rain. the freezing rain is not fun, but I admire how dedicated Daisy is to her routine of daily walks. And its fun to get back home and warm up again, especially with hot chocolate.
    7.5) The possibility of snow this month!!!

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Hi Imps! Hi Ekua! What great colors and textures. I love the butterflies and love that she lets them go! Also love the fedora – so stylish!

    Jules: That version brings an old school video game to mind!

    Hi Jone! Say hello to the colorful flowers for me.

    1) Fresh food
    2) Warm food
    3) Warm clothes
    4) Good routine
    5) Consideration
    6) Conversation
    7) Written

  4. Jone, I’m reading All That She Carried now. Just started it, and I am blown away by how beautifully she writes, though I’m frustrated because it’s soooo good and my weird work schedule this week and last week is/was getting in the way of MORE reading. I love it. … Hello to Chuck!

    Rachel, Celeste and her gloriously unperfect stomach in her new Bras and Things ads … I love it. … Love that sixth kick! AND the first. Hope you get that snow! Hello to Daisy.

    Little Willow, hope you had some cocoa with that warm food. I love how your last three kicks flow together.

    Have a good week, you all!

  5. Rachel, here’s to a possibility of snow.
    Little Willow: Love conversation and written.

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