cover image I Am Brown

I Am Brown

Ashok Banker, illus. by Sandhya Prabhat. Lantana, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-911373-94-0

Beginning with a child sporting exuberant puffball pigtails and broadening into a community of brown-skinned children, the figures in this joyful picture book love the skin they’re in. “I am brown/ I am beautiful/ I am perfect,” Banker writes in his picture book debut. The figures portrayed—in many modes of dress, including a business suit, a saree, and a salwar and a kameez—know that they exemplify love and friendship, can become anything (play vignettes include doctor, electrician, and prime minister), and do anything (“I design rocket ships” captions two kids flying paper airplanes). Of special interest are spreads that show the diversity of the figures’ experiences through food eaten, activities enjoyed, and homes lived in. In one, children gather around a globe, pointing out continents where “I come from”; another shows languages “I speak” (among them Arabic, French, Tamil, and Urdu); and another states places where “I pray” (“nowhere” is among the possibilities). Readers will take heart at the high spirits and unalloyed happiness that Prabhat (Ignore the Trolls) instills in her characters, almost all of whom are smiling or laughing. Ages 5–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]