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Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

by Sandra L Pinkney
Illustrated by Myles Pinkney

Published by Scholastic, 2000
28 pages
ISBN: 0-439-14892-8

Ages 3 - 11

"I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream," proclaims a light-skinned African-American boy licking a vanilla ice cream cone, while on the facing page, a dark-skinned boy eating chocolate states "...and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar." The text continues, "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." Each statement is accompanied by an exquisite photograph of an African American child of corresponding skin tone, holding the food to which he or she is being compared. Differing skin tones make up the first of three sections of physical differences characteristic among African American children. In the second section, hair texture is compared to cotton balls, lambs wool, blades of grass and rope with similarly composed photographs, and concludes with: "All my hair is good." Eye colors are compared to polished stones such as tiger's-eye, unakite, lapis and onyx in the final section, which concludes with the same phrase that is repeated to introduce each section: "I am Black. I am unique." Sandra Pinkney's beautifully lyrical text effortlessly communicates differences that all children see but rarely see acknowledged in such a straight-forward and positive way, while Myles Pinkney's dynamic photographs capture the children's deep pride and joie de vivre. ( Highly Commended, 2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award; Winner, CCBC 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Discussion. CCBC categories: Understanding Oneself and Others; Poetry; Contemporary People, Places, and Events. KTH; Dec 18) 2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center


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