In Sierra Leone, young Joe had goals for his future, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to attain them unless he moved to the United States. His family and friends discouraged him from going, saying “people would laugh at his accent and fear his dark skin.” Joe’s response? “Watch me.”
When Joe arrived in America, he learned that his friends and family were right—people did mock him because of his skin color and his accent, and some people even told him to go back where he came from. But Joe refused to give in to their animosity even though he was profoundly wounded by it. Running away wasn’t his approach to dealing with problems.
And what became of Joe? After studying hard—twice as hard as others because he always had to prove that he belonged in America—he became Dr. Joe. Author Doyin Richards asks, “How do I know? Because Dr. Joe was my dad.”
Watch Me is not only Richards’ tribute to his amazing dad, it’s also interspersed with questions and invitations for children to reflect on the people they encounter in society: “Look around. Do you see people like Joe? Do you watch them learn and study, surrounded by books? Do you watch them as they deal with all kinds of looks? Do you watch them throw an awesome curveball? Do you watch them eat lunch by themselves down the hall? They come by plane. Perhaps like you. They come by boat. Maybe you did, too. Watch them. See them. This land is your land. This land is our land. There is enough for everyone.”
Illustrator Joe Cepeda’s dynamic, flamboyant paintings portray the beauty and ugliness, opportunities and challenges of both Sierra Leone and America, and complement Richards’ stirring, gracious narrative. (Feiwel & Friends)