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Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment, by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson

How could someone look so real and so magical at the same time?

Who is she?

In that moment, Parker saw more than just a portrait — she saw a road before her with endless possibilities.

What begins as an ordinary day for young Parker Curry turns into an extraordinary moment as young Parker becomes mesmerized standing eye-to-eye with Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Nearly passing by the acclaimed portrait during her visit to the National Portrait Gallery, Parker looks up and her flurry of activity is immediately paused. In the moments that follow, Parker regards the image of a “queen” and her thoughts thread together regality, beauty, hope, and strength. Readers are literally “goosebumped” as they witness Parker seeing herself in Michelle Obama.

Parker Looks Up is co-authored by pre-K student Parker and her mother, Jessica. Based on their somewhat ordinary day at the museum with her sister, mother and friends, Parker’s account illustrates the power of a “small moment” and invites conversation about author’s craft, including the use of text features and the development of multiple themes.

When sharing this treasure with a 6 year old reader, the child noticed Parker’s photo on the back cover — the same gown pictured in the famous portrait of Michelle Obama. The reader diligently flipped back and forth between the images, noticing and naming the similarities and differences.

After a group of 3rd graders read the book, two of the readers questioned how former First Lady Michelle Obama could really be a “mother… lawyer… writer…sister…friend…volunteer… mentor…hero…”. The discussion that followed lead to personal connections and ideas for their own writing. The read aloud fueled 5th graders’ lively conversations about internal and external character traits and the craft moves the co-authors made to reach their readers.

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