More than skin deep, this rhyming paean to diversity offers readers an array of families of all colors and orientations, living and loving one another in a vibrant city setting.
A giggling baby is tummy-tickled by her white and black mothers (or white mother and black father—impressively, the illustration leaves room for interpretation) in New York’s Central Park in its summertime glory. "This is how we all begin: / small and happy in our skin." This celebration of skin not only extols the beauty and value of various skin colors, but also teaches the importance of skin as an essential body part: “It keeps the outsides out / and your insides in.” Park, public-pool, and block-party scenes allow readers to luxuriate in a teeming city where children of all colors, abilities, and religions enjoy their families and neighbors. The author and illustrator do not simply take a rote, tokenistic approach to answering the cry for diverse books; the words and pictures depict a much-needed, realistic representation of the statement “it takes a village to raise a child” when a child skins her knee and many rush to her aid and comfort. Though her palette of browns is a little limited, Tobia creates sheer joy with her depictions of everything from unibrows, dimples, and birthmarks to callouts to recognizable literary characters.
The combination of lovingly humorous and detailed mixed-media illustrations and infectious rhymes will cause little ones and their families to pore over this book again and again. (Picture book. 2-5)