Since I had such a good time creating the list of books about foster care and adoption I thought I’d give it a go again. This time I have a list of books about people of color.
PreSchool-Grade 2 Lena’s mother is an artist, so she knows whereof she speaks when she insists that there are many different shades of brown. The two take a walk through their neighborhood by way of illustration, and the friends and relatives they meet along the way aptly reinforce Mom’s contention. Their skin colors are compared to honey, peanut butter, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, chocolate, and more, conjuring up delicious and beautiful comparisons for every tint. Katz’s pencil-and-gouache pictures joyously convey the range of human pigmentation. Positive and useful. Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
A young African-American girl describes the familiar mother-daughter nightly ritual of combing the tangles out of her hair. When she cries because it hurts, her sympathetic mother tells her how lucky she is to have such beautiful hair. Imaginatively, the woman goes on to say that she can spin it into a fine, soft bun or “plant rows of braids” along her scalp, prompting her daughter to think of other wonderful things she likes about her hair. The superb watercolor illustrations move from the intimacy and security of Keyana’s bedroom to the neighborhood streets and finally to the whole world as her mother’s imagery becomes reflected in the art. Keyana’s hair is spun on a spinning wheel, becomes part of rows of plants in a garden, and merges with a globe of the whole world. The child’s favorite style, however, is two ponytails that flap like wings on each side of her head, and the final picture is of Keyana triumphantly flying free against the blue sky. Pictures and text reflect the expanding horizons of the child’s world as she learns to be proud of her distinctive hair and her heritage.
“With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud offering is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety subjects, not just race.”–School Library Journal
The Lees’ diapered dynamo starts early (the VCR reads 3:01 a.m.), with the little girl outlasting her mama sprawled out on the living room floor (“Go back to bed, baby, please, baby, please”). A breakfast of upturned Cheerios follows a few hours later (“Not on your HEAD, baby baby baby, please!”), then play time, a trip to the playground, dinner, and a bath (“Please don’t splash, baby baby, please, baby!”). The fun repetition doesn’t change up until the book’s sweet close, as the curly-haired tyke somehow can’t get to sleep (“Kiss me good night? Mama, Mama, Mama, please”).
Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury
Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy, acclaimed authors and scholars of Latino literature, have spent years culling popular and beloved lullabies, jump-rope songs, riddles, proverbs, and more from all over the Spanish-speaking world. The result is the most comprehensive bilingual folklore collection available in this country. Full of charm and humor, rich with the diversity of Latino cultures, this one-of-a-kind treasury is the perfect introduction to Latino folklore for English speakers, and a trove of familiar favorites for Spanish speakers.