This book will be cherished by Muslim families seeking to boost their children’s confidence and intriguing for non-Muslim...

YO SOY MUSLIM

A FATHER'S LETTER TO HIS DAUGHTER

In Gonzales’ first book for children, a father tells his Latin American indigenous, Muslim daughter to face the world’s questions with pride in her identity.

This “Father’s Letter to His Daughter” faces the question of identity head-on. The intimate text instructs the girl to remember Mayan pyramids as she walks “in the steel shadows” of cities and assures her that “there are questions we all ask / when we are learning what it means to be human.” The father then prepares her for the “questions this world will ask” without smiling: “What are you? / And / where are you from?” Father instructs daughter to say, “Yo soy Muslim. / Our prayers were here / before any borders were.” Stylized illustrations emphasize light and dark, warm and natural colors, highlighting the girl, with her orange, patterned dress and large eyes gazing out at readers or up at other characters in her world and the things her father shows her. The girl’s gestures and gaze show that she is absorbing all that is happening around her. A poetic celebration of heritage and faith, past and future, this book is unique for its blend of indigenous, Spanish-speaking cultural content with Muslim religious identity.

This book will be cherished by Muslim families seeking to boost their children’s confidence and intriguing for non-Muslim families seeking to learn. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8936-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Positively refreshing.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

SULWE

With the help of a legend about Day and Night, a dark-skinned black child learns that she is beautiful inside and out.

Sulwe is “the color of midnight,” the darkest in her multihued family, and is teased in school. She tries everything to lighten her skin: an eraser, makeup, eating light foods, prayer. Her mother tells her she is beautiful and that her name, Sulwe, or “star,” refers to an inner brightness, but she can’t see it in herself. Then a shooting star comes to her window, sent by the night, and brings Sulwe out to tell her about Night and Day, two sisters who loved each other but were treated differently. When Night left after people called her names like “scary,” “bad,” and “ugly,” the people realized that they needed her. The stars added that “some light can only be seen in the dark.” After learning how Night and Day are both needed, Sulwe knows that she is “dark and beautiful, bright and strong.” Harrison’s glossy illustrations faithfully render the features of black people, allowing the beauty of different skin tones to shine, with deep purple tones in the darkness, reinforcing the story’s message. In an author’s note, Nyong’o shares her own past struggles with her complexion.

A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2536-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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