THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN

Well meaning but poorly executed.

A young girl questions the labeling of a skin-colored pencil when the hue doesn’t represent herself or those around her.

While drawing at school, Vega is approached by her friend Alex. He asks to borrow her “skin-colored pencil.” This is a Spanish import, and many literal-minded young readers in the United States may be puzzled, as “flesh” has not been a Crayola color since 1962, when it was renamed “peach.” Nevertheless, they will understand how Alex’s request prompts Vega to question both the label and the concept of a universal skin color as she reflects on the skin tones of the people in her community. While each individual is depicted with a unique complexion, none embodies the “kind of light pink” that matches the skin-colored pencil. Both children wonder about the origins of the label since neither they nor the people in their community share that particular skin color. Vega, who presents White, posits that “the person who discovered it must have…forgot[ten] to add the rest of the colors.” This simplistic reasoning mischaracterizes the label as a harmless error, completely avoiding White supremacy, racism, and colorism as potential factors. Sidestepping these points diminishes the empowering message of inclusivity the book has tried to convey. Later, both children work together to create art with “all of the pencils and crayons and paints they thought could be ‘skin color,'” which includes six different shades but omits any dark brown ones.

Well meaning but poorly executed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-84-18302-40-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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