Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff

cover for Black is Brown is TanLike others, I am thankful for this book because it was the first book in the United States that put an interracial family on the page. The illustrations are engaging but the text itself is difficult to follow unless you sing it. Doesn’t matter the tune you apply, just enter the story as a song and it will be easier to read although even with that approach, you will still, occasionally trip over the writing. Making maximum use of the canvass, the book shows the interracial family—a black mother, white father and their two children; one a boy, the other a girl—in a wide variety of scenes of life including ones with family members other than the parents. The text also addresses those differences between the mother and father being classified as “black and white” but not actually being those colors which is really good for the young child who is trying to sort how people are both brown and “black” or pink and “white” at the same time. Not that this text will clarify the issue for your little one but it at least acknowledges it. Other than that, the history behind this book, which has had many reprints since 1973 when it was first published, is laudable. The author is Arnold Adoff, the poet husband of celebrated author Virginia Hamilton. Adoff and Hamilton married in 1960, at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in 28 U.S. states. Thirteen years later Adoff wrote this book for children like his own. It has been a mainstay of mixed heritage children’s literature for forty years.

Recommendation: Highly recommended as a part of literary history and an okay picture book with beautiful illustrations as well.

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

 

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