Synopses & Reviews
Using poetic language and stunning photographs, the Pinkneys create a remarkable affirmation of the beauty and diversity of African-American children in this board book edition of their bestselling picture book. Full color.
Indeed, there are many shades of black, and they are beautifully exemplified in this photo album that depicts the varied palette that makes up black skin. These gorgeous children are "gingery brown like a cookie," "brassy yellow like popcorn," and "midnight blue like a licorice stick." And yes, "black" can be creamy white like vanilla ice cream. But the author and illustrator don't stop there. They also look at eyes and hair, showing the beauty and uniqueness of eyes with hints of tiger-eye yellow and sturdy, coiling, woollike hair. All of it is black. All of it is beautiful. This may be just the kind of book that black children don't see enough of, but it can certainly be appreciated by children of any color. Denia Hester
--Booklist, November 2000
Pinkney thoughfully addresses some sensitive issues in her first book, illustrated with color photographs of children, taken by her husband. (Their own three children are included among the models.) In a simple, patterned text full of rich vocabulary, Pinkney describes the different skin tones, hair textures, and eye colors of the African-American children shown in the photographs, with each child holding the object discussed in the text on that page. Skin colors are described with food metaphors ("the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar") hair textures are compared to items with texture ("the stiff ringlets in lambs wool"); and eye colors are related to polished stones ("the shimmering glow of ebony in an onyx"). This metaphoric structure succeeds both poetically and educationally, providing a sublte lesson in racial awareness and tolerance that will be welcomed by both parents and teachers. Our society has come a long way since Black is Brown is Tan (Arnold Adoff, 1973) shook up the staid world of children's books, and this new collaboration by still more members of the talented Pinkney family forges ahead in a similar way with a calmly accepting view of all African-American children, whatever their skin or eye color, as equal members of the black community. This bold, beautifully photographed book should be a first choice for most libraries and will be especially popular during Black History Month.
--Kirkus Reviews, Dec. 1, 2000
The beauty of African-American children is celebrated in this joyous picture book. Wonderful, clear, full-color photographs of youngsters illustrate a poetic, vivid text that describes a range of skin and eye colors and hair textures. ("I am the midnight blue in a licorice stick/and the golden brown in sugar/I am the velvety orange in a peach/and the coppery brown in a pretzel.") Both the photographs and text with its refrain of "I am Black/I am Unique" impart a sense of pride and well-being. An affirmative message for children of all races.-Tammy K. Baggett, Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library, CA
---School Library Journal, December 2000