cover image Nesting Dolls

Nesting Dolls

Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Crown, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-984852-37-3

During a trip to visit their grandparents, Anyiaka, a child with dark brown skin, feels like they “stick out like a sore thumb” among family members who have “glamorous hair and golden brown skin.” After being sent out of the kitchen when trying to help make dinner, Anyiaka examines pictures of ancestors in their grandmother’s art studio, and attempts to repaint a nesting doll figure that represents Anyiaka, using a lighter color. The child’s grandma, who speaks in dialect, remarks that the family is similar in ways Anyiaka doesn’t see, from the smile they inherited from her to their mom’s “soulful eyes” and their sibling’s “rosy cheeks.” With Anyiaka’s sister and mother, they make a set of nesting dolls that reflect all of them: “Every doll is different, but they come together to make one big doll. One big family.” Brantley-Newton’s abundant use of vivid textile patterns gives the story a homey atmosphere that suits its layered contemplation of family. A note about the Gullah Geechee people concludes. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)