Monday, August 15, 2022

Brown is warm, black is bright by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Keith Mallett

Mallett's beautiful art and Thomson's poetic text follows the girl on the cover through a celebration of the warmth and beauty of black and brown. The title pages show her joyously kicking through an explosion of red and yellow leaves, while her father rakes in the background. She enjoys the crisp brown of leaves, the mystery and splash of a black pool, the strength of a tree and t

he soaring flight of a crow. The story becomes more poetic equating black and brown with the hope of following a path home, the sweetness of her father's greeting, the richness of ideas coming from those before her, the beauty of the music she evokes from a cello. Black and brown is safe, warm and quiet as her father kisses her goodnight and she curls up with her puppy.

There have been many beautiful books being published recently that celebrate diversity, especially in skin tones. However, I find it difficult to get these to circulate or figure out how to fit them into a storytime. This may certainly be a failing on my part - I know many people have an audience for these type of "high-concept" books and I do get a lot of teacher requests for those geared more towards social-emotional learning and self-esteem, especially at the beginning of the year, but I've never figured out how to incorporate them into a storytime, especially for younger kids.

So, I was really excited when I saw the idea for this - a book that celebrates black and brown skin, but beginning with the framing of celebrating the colors that occur naturally in nature. Naturally, most of the book is framed by the season of autumn and I can never have too many season books. Moving on, it evokes the warmth of a bedtime story and the hope and upbeat feeling of the books that encourage resilience and hope in kids, which will hit the benchmarks my teachers look for. A book can be objectively beautiful, of great literary quality, and supporting the ideals of diversity that we all strive for, but still not the right fit for a specific audience - this book is perfect in combining the diversity I want to see in my collection with subjects that teachers and parents are looking for and which will make it a popular choice and, possibly, an enduring classic.

Verdict: If you long for beautiful and diverse high-concept books but know they won't circulate well for you, this is the book you need for your collection! If those high-concept books are easy circulators for you, this lovely book will be a wonderful addition. Either way, I recommend it for most collections.

ISBN: 9780316424196; Published August 2022 by Little Brown; F&G provided by publisher

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