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Sulwe
2019
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Summary
From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong'o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 2--A sweet story that discusses colorism and emphasizes self-love. In lyrical prose, actress-writer N'yongo tells the tale of young Sulwe, "born the color of midnight." Sulwe feels isolated from her lighter-skinned family, and from the children at school who call her racist names. She resorts to trying to lighten herself by wearing makeup, eating light foods, and even using an eraser to rub away her dark skin. Though her mother reassures Sulwe (whose name means 'star' in the Luo dialect) that she is beautiful and her brightness is internal, the young girl remains sad and skeptical. That night, she is taken on a journey by a shooting star and told the tale of Night and Day, two sisters who brought light and darkness to earth. Bullied for her darkness, Night disappears, leaving earth to suffer in perpetual sunlight. Eventually, Day brings her back, apologizing and assuring Night that she's exactly who she's meant to be. Sulwe wakes up from her nighttime adventure energized and confident, "dark and beautiful, bright and strong." Readers who are familiar with this experience will feel seen, while others will relate to feelings of being an outsider while learning about colorism. Harrison's art is captivating: warm golden tones blend flawlessly into rich, purple-hued night scenes, gorgeously accented with iridescent blues and galactic sprinkles of white. Youngsters who may miss parts of the lesson will remain enthralled with the artwork. VERDICT Though a bit uneven in its storytelling, this beautiful book covers an important topic rarely addressed for young audiences, with tenderness and joy. Sure to gain attention in picture book collections.--Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal
Booklist Review
Sulwe's night-shaded skin sets her apart from the people around her. Classmates call her names, she can't make friends, and no trick of makeup, dieting, or prayer succeeds in lightening her color. Then, one night, a shooting star carries her out from her bedroom into the origin story of Night and Day, two goddesses of starkly different shades. After the dark Night runs away to escape the world's cruelty, everyone realizes that they need her darkness just as much as they need the Day's light. This parable helps Sulwe understand that all skin tones have value, and she returns feeling beautiful. It's a lovely offering from Oscar-winner Nyong'o, whose own life inspired the story. Harrison's expressive illustrations a duet of dark purples and light golds infused with heart and starlight make it impossible to deny the beauty on display. A welcome celebration of Black girls, an important lesson for all kids (and grownups), and a necessary message for any child who has been made to feel unworthy of love on account of their looks.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2010 Booklist
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