Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Picture Book Review - Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney

"I am Black / I am Unique!"

The subtitle of Sandra and Myles Pinkney's Shades of Black is "A Celebration of Our Children", and indeed it is! From the very first page, readers will catch the infectious spirit that runs through this vibrant book. Sandra Pinkney's text has a poetic feel to it, as she demonstrates the range of skin colors that encompasses shades of "brassy yellow" to "midnight blue", and lots more. I love that she draws comparisons between colors and food items, like gingery brown cookies or creamy white ice cream. What a great way to make kids sit up and take notice! The next sections show hair textures and lengths (Sprout likes to point out the "soft puffs in a cotton ball" that are like his own hair), as well as eye colors. Again Sandra Pinkney uses familiar items as points of comparison, so kids will readily see that all kinds of hair and eyes exist -- and "all of my hair is good!".

And no review of this title would be complete without commenting on Myles Pinkney's photos. As central as the text is to this book, the photos are what brings the words to vivid life. Gorgeous boys and girls of all ages display a variety of hair styles, eye colors and skin tones, all of which are emphasized by the text that accompanies them. We love the eye color section, where the kiddos all hold up rocks that match the hues of their own eyes (and we learned some rock names -- bonus!). I love the sly way one girl peeks at the camera out of the corner of her eye, and the playfulness of another flinging around piles of popcorn. Joyful, playful, ebullient!

If you're looking for a way to affirm and uplift your African American child, or to open a discussion about diversity, look no further. Pair with Shades of People or Black is Brown is Tan.

Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney, published by Scholastic
All ages
Source: Library
Sample quote: "My hair is the straight edge in a blade of grass / and the twisted corkscrew in a rope / My hair is short and my hair is long / All of my hair is good"
Highly recommended

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