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SKIN AGAIN by bell hooks


by bell hooks & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7868-0825-X
Publisher: Hyperion

Snake(skin) and onion(skin) form the illustrative leitmotifs in this over-intellectualized musing on skin color.

“The skin I’m in / is just a covering. If you want to know who I am / you have got to come inside / and open your heart way wide.” Raschka does his usual extraordinary job of illustrating highly abstract concepts: children of different colors—rendered in smudgy paints—look at, point at, and reach out to each other, finally clasping hands in a sort of graphic minuet. Colored boxes alternately become clothing, frames, and X-ray film that reveals the children’s inner dreams; they multiply until they form a quilt, the loosely fit-together patches alternating faces and simple, striking designs. hooks’s preachily earnest text, on the other hand, while admirably articulating a vision that states that “skin . . . is one small way to see me / but not real enough to be all / the me of me or the you of you,” is so removed from real children’s concrete understanding as to be almost meaningless.

Skip this, and buy another copy of Yo? Yes! (Picture book. 4-7)