Well meaning but poorly executed.

THE COLOR OF YOUR SKIN

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. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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. 2, 2021

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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