Buy This Book
Other books you may enjoy
“But you can’t rely on what you look like to make you feel beautiful, my sweet. Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It begins with how you see yourself, not how others see you,” Mama. –Sulwe
by Lupita Nyong’O
AR Test, Must Read, Picture Book
4 - 8
Sulwe wants to be like everyone else, but she is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe believes that because she is darker, she is not beautiful. To be beautiful, she needs to have lighter skin like her mother and sister.
One night, a star appears and takes Sulwe on a magical journey in the night sky. Sulwe is shown the story of two sisters, the Night and the Day. Even though the two were sisters, people didn’t treat them the same. “People gave Night names like ‘Scary’ and ‘Bad’ and ‘Ugly.” She felt hurt every time.” Upset by her treatment, Night left the earth. Because of Night’s absence, people realize they need Night. They learn “Brightness isn’t just for daylight. Light comes in all colors. And some light can only be seen in the dark.”
Night realizes that she does not need to change, she is beautiful just as she is. After hearing Day and Night’s story, Sulwe realizes that “she belongs out in the world! Dark and beautiful, bright and strong.” At the end of the book, the author explains how “it is important to feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror, but what is even more important is working on being beautiful inside. That means being kind to yourself and others. That is the beauty that truly shines through.”
Using language that young readers can understand, Sulwe shows the pain that colorism can cause. Even though the story focuses on colorism, anyone who has ever wanted to look different will understand Sulwe’s pain. Like everyone, Sulwe wants to fit in and make friends. However, she thinks that her problems would be solved if her skin was lighter. At one point, Sulwe tries to remove the darkness from her skin with an eraser. Sulwe’s sadness is shown in her words, her actions, and the illustrations.
The animation-styled illustrations are beautiful and moving. The illustrations show both Sulwe’s family and classmates and show the variations of their skin colors. Characters’ emotions are clearly shown through facial expressions and their actions. The book also has gorgeous images of light and dark that show the beauty in both.
Both Sulwe’s prose and illustrations are beautiful and show the importance of accepting yourself. This important message is one that every child needs to hear. Even though Sulwe is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. While many of the pages only have one sentence, readers will need assistance with the vocabulary. Sulwe would make an excellent addition to anyone’s library because the story shows that “you are beautiful because you choose to be.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- A star came into Sulwe’s bedroom. “Sulwe hoped onto the star and off they went.” The star shows Sulwe the beginning of time and the story of Night and Day.
- Sulwe went to bed and “turned to God for a miracle.” She prays “Please make me as fair as the parents I’m from. I want to be beautiful, not just to pretend.”