FICTION

Sulwe

S. & S. Oct. 2019. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534425361.
COPY ISBN
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.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.