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Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment

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A New York Times bestseller!

A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.

When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn’t just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen—one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl’s imagination. When a nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of a mesmerized Parker, it became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book.

Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia’s mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama…and almost passes it. But she stops...and looks up!

Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting of Michelle Obama. An everyday moment became an extraordinary one…that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact. Because, as Jessica Curry said, “anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender.”


40 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2019

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Parker Curry

6 books13 followers

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5 stars
922 (54%)
4 stars
547 (32%)
3 stars
175 (10%)
2 stars
31 (1%)
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5 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 316 reviews
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,326 reviews96 followers
July 27, 2020
This is an absolutely adorable picture book for kids! My granddaughter Miss S and grandson Mr. H loved it! A little girl and her mom meet with their friends for a day at the museum. Although the art is spectacular the one that stops her in her tracks is a painting of a queen that she can relate to. It's one of those rare moments where she sees someone like herself in art. A mother, lawyer, writer, sister, wife, who is courageous, smart, caring, honest and inspirational. All the things she can aspire to be.
A lovely story that all children should read!
Profile Image for Beth Voecks.
305 reviews8 followers
October 30, 2019
Beautifully illustrated and inspiring prose! I loved seeing the paintings in the museum through Parker, Gia and Ava's eyes; especially the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. Fabulous!
Profile Image for Nicole M. Hewitt.
1,412 reviews283 followers
December 2, 2019
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Parker Looks Up is a sweet story about the little girl whose picture went viral after she was so entranced by Michelle Obama’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. If you’re like me, you probably remember the moment and were delighted by the awe you could see in Parker’s face as she stared up at the portrait.

This story is simple, but that makes sense since it’s told from the perspective of a three-year-old. Parker’s love for dance is tied into her love of Obama, who she sees as a queen. The story highlights how a little girl can see a world of possibilities for the future in one simple portrait. The artwork is beautiful, and it truly brings the museum to life! Oh, and the back of the book features a picture of real-life Parker in her Michelle Obama dress (which she wore for Halloween)—so adorable!

***Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,362 reviews456 followers
August 29, 2021
Read for my 365 Kids Book challenge. You can see all the books on their own shelf.

A lovely moment. The picture on the back cover is charming. The illustrations are vibrant and engaging. Possibly a bit too much back matter in the acknowledgements, but I love the Note from Amy Sherald, and the references to real art in the museum. And the photo of Parker on the back cover is just precious.

Library copy
Profile Image for Erin Buhr.
Author 5 books34 followers
October 9, 2019
This is about a little girl who is stopped in her tracks by the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery. It is based on Parker's real trip with her mom to the museum and while I feel like some of the set up could have been fictionalized to better grab the reader from the beginning, the book as a whole offers that swelling inspiration this moment held. What Parker feels when she looks up, that inspired awe, is well described and depicted. It's a simple moment in time but that moment is a powerful example of why representation matters.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews310 followers
November 16, 2019
This picture book tale of the moment capture on social media as 2-year-old Parker Curry stood captivated by Michelle Obama's portrait is a testament to the power and importance of representation. It's also a story about a family visiting an art museum and would fit in well with programming about art or museum visits. Pair this with CROWN by Derrick D. Barnes for more books about African American pride or NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE.
Profile Image for C.B.
305 reviews4 followers
October 12, 2019
Such a sweet book! Not only was the real life moment adorable in the photo that went viral, this book was so equally so! Gorgeous artwork accompanied simple text to hit at the heart of Black Girl Magic whilst focusing on a sweet little girl (Parker) and an icon (Michelle Obama) who could inspire anyone. Lovely art, nice, simple writing, and wonderful sentiment.
5,035 reviews71 followers
January 22, 2020
Tells the story of the time Parker comes face to face with Michelle Obama's portrait and is spellbound.

Love Amy Sherald's (artist of Michelle's portrait) note.

Cute photo of Parker in a copy of Michelle's dress on the back, though I wish they had included the original photo.
Profile Image for Katie.
49 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2019
Love this book and the moment it represents. A little girl seeing herself in a strong and powerful position.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,136 reviews171 followers
January 12, 2020
Nice enough, but did not quite capture the power of the story that swept the internet and caught my attention for a moment.
Profile Image for Sharanja.
156 reviews31 followers
March 20, 2022
Parker Looks Up by Jessica and Parker Curry. Illustrated by Brittany Jackson

"Parker Looks Up" is a sweet reminder that representation is both necessary and powerful.

This beautiful picture book is inspired by a true story. We follow Parker as she visits the museum with her family. She loves the museum! There's so much to do and see.

When Parker stumbles across a portrait of Michelle Obama, she becomes completely mesmerized. She has never seen anyone who looks like her shown in this way before. That one moment of wonder makes her feel like she can do anything.

I love the message behind Parker's story. It's important for kids to see themselves represented in various forms of media. It teaches them that they can aim to be anything they want to be.

The book does a great job of capturing Parker's amazement at Michelle Obama's portrait. You can feel her delight shine right off the pages.

The illustrations are also a major highlight. Every page is beautifully drawn. I also loved the character design of Parker and her family. So cute.
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,638 reviews52 followers
November 12, 2019
In this absolutely adorable picture book, a young girl visits the National Portrait Gallery and is inspired by the portrait she sees of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Based on a true experience and told by mother and daughter, Parker Looks Up, reminds readers/listeners of the importance of finding out own mentors or sources of inspiration. Life is hard, especially for all too many young black girls, and it's vitally important for them to find examples to help them grow and keep moving forward. In addition to an inspirational story, the relationship and joy the girls experience together while enjoying the visit to the museum simply made me smile. Young Parker finds joy in being with her friend, her sister, and her mother as she is reminded of the importance of keeping the dream alive. Jackson's illustrations really tugged at my heartstrings. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this adorable little girl and her family finding inspiration in an outing together. One of my favorite books of the year.
Profile Image for Victoria.
549 reviews
December 31, 2019
What a perfect book to end the year with!
Excellent illustrations. A powerful story made all the better because it really happened. Signifies the power of art, museums - and even more importantly seeing YOURSELF represented in that art. A tear-jerker in a happy way.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
884 reviews12 followers
October 22, 2019

How can you not fall in love with this book? Parker is so amazing. Beautifully illustrated and written. Every little girl should have this book. I loved it.
Profile Image for alisonwonderland (Alison).
1,300 reviews105 followers
June 3, 2021
‘Parker Looks Up’ is a delightful picture book, based on a photo taken by Ben Hines at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018.

I didn’t know anything about this photo, but I was so taken by the book, I did a little research.

Apparently the photo of two-year-old Parker Curry went viral. Parker’s mom Jessica discussed the significance of Parker’s experience in an article in ‘The New York Times’ a few weeks later. (Google for the details.)

I love what Amy Sherald, the artist of Michelle Obama’s official portrait, said in the note at the end of the book:

“Culture determines who counts in society and reflects the society itself. What Parker observed while looking at the portrait of the First Lady was her own greatness.”
Profile Image for Margaret Boling.
2,186 reviews35 followers
September 6, 2020
9/5/2020 ~ I love the idea of this book - as expressed so well on the flyleaf and on the third to last spread of the story. The illustrations are light and airy, and the characters huge eyes (that are so popular right now) evoke dreams and possibilities.

I did have a few quibbles with the text. Writing a picture book and leaving space for the illustrations is such an art. In a few places, I felt like fewer words would have been more effective, since the message was conveyed so well in the illustrations.

I will definitely be adding this book to my elementary library.
Profile Image for Amy Layton.
1,641 reviews50 followers
December 29, 2019
Wow, okay, even just the thought of writing this review is giving me chills, which just goes to show how beautiful and meaningful and absolutely wonderful this picture book is.  When Parker goes to the museum, she sees all sorts of beautiful artworks, but is stunned when she stumbles upon the portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama.  This is a riveting story about representation, artwork, and the reworking of what it means to see yourself in others.  I would recommend this to any child who struggles with seeing themselves in artwork--especially black children--and to those who adore museums and cultural outings.  Great for grades 1-3.

Review cross-listed here!
Profile Image for Connie T..
949 reviews4 followers
December 26, 2020
I knew nothing about the inspiration for this story when I first read it and was confused by the fact that the little girl in the story is credited as being its author. It's disappointing that I had to do an internet search before I could fully appreciate the book. Also, I would've preferred to see the original photo that prompted the internet sensation rather than the photo of Parker wearing a dress similar to the one Michelle Obama wore in her portrait. A cute enough story but it's the back story that makes this one special.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 316 reviews

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