A biracial girl tries to describe herself in terms of color.
Simone, whose mother is depicted as black and whose father is depicted as white in the digital illustrations with manga-style influences, asks her parents, “Am I black or white?” Both seem a bit dismissive. Mama says, “Boo…a color is just a word.” Daddy tells her, “you’re a little bit of both.” She then asks a diverse group of friends, “What color am I?” They respond in ways that individually align her with them. A black girl says she’s black. A white boy says she’s white. A girl of color whose race isn’t named says “You could be one or the other.” Simone then searches for colors. She’s not black like the tire swing that “stains her hands and clothes” (a line that may give readers pause). Nor is she white like the classroom glue that drips on her skin. But truly, no one is those colors, and the text shifts to present Simone reflecting that her black mother has skin that “reminds her of the honey from the beehives at Grandma’s house.” Unfortunately, she likens her father’s skin color to “the smoke that billows from Grandpa’s train,” which is quite a stretch, and even Moises doesn’t seem to try to make the smoke resemble Daddy’s pinkish skin tone. Simone combines these words to proudly call herself “honeysmoke,” and readers are invited to create their own color words, too. There is a need for books in which biracial children explore their mixed identities, but this simplistic tale goes only skin deep.
Color-conscious—but that’s where it stops. (Picture book. 4-6)