Shades of Black

by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney

“I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream,” proclaims a light‑skinned... read more

“I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream,” proclaims a light‑skinned African American boy licking a vanilla ice cream cone. On the facing page, a dark‑skinned boy eating chocolate says, “and the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar.” The text continues, “I am the midnight blue in a licorice stick and the golden brown in sugar. I am the velvety orange in a peach and the coppery brown in a pretzel.” Accompanying each statement is an exquisite photograph of an African American child holding the food to which he or she is being compared. Differing skin tones make up the first of three sections about physical differences characteristic among African American children. In the second section, hair texture is compared to cotton balls, lambs wool, blades of grass, and rope and concludes with: “All my hair is good.” Eye colors are compared to tiger’s‑eye, unakite, lapis, and onyx in the final section, which concludes with the phrase that introduces each section: “I am Black. I am unique.” Sandra Pinkney’s lyrical text effortlessly communicates differences that all children notice but rarely see acknowledged in such a straightforward and positive way. Myles Pinkney’s dynamic photographs capture the children’s deep pride and joie de vivre . Highly Commended, 2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award ; Winner, CCBC 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Discussion. (Ages 3‑11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2001

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