Sulwe / written by Lupita Nyong'o ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: When five-year-old Sulwe's classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but her encounter with a shooting star helps her understand there is beauty in every shade.
    • Notes:
      Ages 4-8
    • ISBN:
      9781534425361
      1534425365
    • Accession Number:
      2018029563
    • Accession Number:
      on1048015757
      1048015757
    • Accession Number:
      fay.672141

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2019 September #1

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. Grades K-2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2020 Spring

In a story partially based on the author's childhood in Kenya, Sulwe was born the color of midnight. So begins a journey to self-love for a little girl whose name means star and who, because of her dark skin, does not feel beautiful. At school she is treated differently from her lighter-complexioned sister, who is given nicknames such as Sunshine, Ray, and Beauty, while Sulwe is hurtfully called Blackie, Darky, and Night. Desperately attempting to make herself lighter, the despondent girl tries to remove a layer or two of her darkness with an eraser, eats only light-colored foods, and offers fervent prayers to God, but nothing works. Then one night a visit from a shooting star changes everything. Swooped up into the cosmos, Sulwe learns about two sisters, Night and Day, from the beginning of Time. Through the allegorical tale the star tells her (unfolding over much of the book), Sulwe comes to understand that her ebony skin is beautiful and that darkness and light are equally necessary to the universe. Glowing illustrations capture the beauty of both light and dark; Nyong'o's text is clear and engaging. An author's note expresses the hope that more and more children begin their lives knowing that they are beautiful. Copyright 2021 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2020 #1

In a story partially based on the author’s childhood in Kenya, “Sulwe was born the color of midnight.” So begins a journey to self-love for a little girl whose name means “star” and who, because of her dark skin, does not feel beautiful. At school she is treated differently from her lighter-complexioned sister, who is given nicknames such as “Sunshine,” “Ray,” and “Beauty,” while Sulwe is hurtfully called “Blackie,” “Darky,” and “Night.” Desperately attempting to make herself lighter, the despondent girl tries to remove “a layer or two of her darkness” with an eraser, eats only light-colored foods, and offers fervent prayers to God, but nothing works. Then one night a visit from a shooting star changes everything. Swooped up into the cosmos, Sulwe learns about two sisters, Night and Day, from “the beginning of Time.” Through the allegorical tale the star tells her (unfolding over much of the book), Sulwe comes to understand that her ebony skin is beautiful and that darkness and light are equally necessary to the universe. Glowing illustrations capture the beauty of both light and dark; Nyong’o’s text is clear and engaging. An author’s note expresses the hope that “more and more children begin their lives knowing that they are beautiful.” Monique Harris January/February 2020 p.76 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

PW Reviews 2019 August #1

Sulwe, "born the color of midnight," has close-cropped hair and the darkest skin in her family. "Mama was the color of dawn, Baba the color of dusk, and Mich, her sister, was the color of high noon." When Sulwe's schoolmates call her names, she endeavors to lighten her skin, and even her mother's wisdom ("Brightness is not in your skin... Brightness is just who you are") cannot convince her of her inherent worth. A nested fable shows Sulwe what happens when Night and Day, two magnificent sisters, react to peoples' initial preference for Day's light. In frustration, Night retreats, taking dreams and secrets with her, until Day, and humankind, begin to miss Night: "we need you just the way you are." Though the fable strikes one odd note ("we need you so that we can... keep our secrets to ourselves"), the story draws its power from graceful prose by actress Nyong'o, making her authorial debut, and expertly executed animation-style art by Harrison (Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History). By turns beguiling (as when Sulwe's mother counsels her tearful daughter) and magical (a shooting star darts into Sulwe's room to share the story of Night and Day), the volume also clearly conveys that colorism is real, and it hurts. Sulwe's story confronts it head-on, with words and images that celebrate the "dark and beautiful, bright and strong." Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.