Lupita Nyong’o has created a picture book that deals with the issue of loving yourself. Growing up darker than her family, Nyong’o always wanted to change her looks; wanted to be lighter, like her own family and like her character, Sulwe. And while the two took different journeys, the ending is the same. They both came to love who they were: inside and out. This is done in a not overly preachy manner and the journey to being yourself could be anyone’s journey due to the way that it is written and even though the young girl is from Kenya, it could also be set anyplace.
This book is straight forward about its theme and that theme has been done before. But due to Nyong’o and her unique voice, there is a different feeling to the overall story. This is helped by Vashti Harrison and their flat-out amazing illustrations. Harrison’s illustrations are marvelous. Warm and outrageously gorgeous colors, Harrison paints a picture of a young girl who would do anything to be different, but eventually learns to live up to her name, the star.
The whole book feels good. The art looks good to the eyes. The text sounds good to the inner ear, or if read aloud, the outer ear. This book is aimed at a certain audience but is reliable to anyone who has not likes something about themselves.
This is a slightly edited quote (but the meaning is still there) from a New York Times article: With Sulwe, Nyong’o hopes to target children …. between 5 and 7 years old when “you learn all the things that you spend the rest of your life trying to unlearn.” And while she recognizes the book’s attachment to her high-profile name, she wants it to, ultimately, live beyond that fact and to help all children reimagine what it means to be beautiful.” And I think she has done that. And hopefully, for people of all races.