A New York Times bestseller!
Featured in its own episode in the Netflix original show Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices!
Recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award
Recipient of an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Literary Work
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.
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.
Beautiful story! We loved it 🏾
Excellent book about self-love
This is a wonderful way to teach children how to respect each other as well as how to love themselves for who they are. I love how beautifully the images tie into the words. I think adults and children alike have much to gain by reading this book together.
Resonates so well w biracial daughter
This book resonates so well with my daughter. She absolutely loves it. It’s served as the catalyst for various discussion around race, skin color, privilege, siblings, etc. Fantastic book.