Where did you come from? Where did your ancestors come from? What was their home like, their country, their culture? This poetic, fervent book for young children was written jointly by four notable Minnesota writers, each of whom comes from a different background: Native writer Diane Wilson is Dakota; poet and essayist Sun Yung Shin is Korean American; essayist and middle-grade novelist Shannon Gibney is Black and Irish American, and children's author John Coy is Irish and Scottish American.
Illustrated by Indonesian artist Dion MBD, "Where We Come From" points out both the differences and commonalities of all people — all of whom came, it says, from stardust and myth.
"We come from place, language and spirit," the text reads. "And each of us comes from story." The voices are strong and vivid. "I come from a long line of dark-haired women who washed rice, spun silk and wrote poems." "I come from my grandmother's garden, picking berries warm from the sun."
Illustrations show the similarities and differences — on one page, Irish people plant potatoes juxtaposed against West Africans who are harvesting yams and okras.
This history is harsh — enslaved people, folks fleeing famine, and migration of all kinds. But the stories will almost certainly prompt questions and stories from the book's young readers.
"Where We Come From" will be launched at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Red Balloon Bookstore, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, with a second event at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Moon Palace, 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls. The authors will also sign books at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where the book has launched the "Stars of the North" storytelling exhibit in Concourse C.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. On Twitter: @StribBooks.