Both books are hard to rate. Because if you say, “I did not care for them.” You are instantly bullied and told you are racist. No, I just feel that there was something missing. Or maybe the art was not my personal tastes. Or maybe the book is, frankly, just plain bad regardless of the subject.
I will start with the one I preferred; M is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child. Tiffany Rose has written, a lovely and wonderful book. If I have one complaint, there was not enough to it. I loved the authors note, but I think I was hoping to learn more about Rose, their experiences and influences. I wanted another 26 letters. This is an alphabet book that has the potential to teach and entertain. It has the potential to give pride and to show how many lovely people are out there. One of the pieces I liked was that this can almost be adapted to anyone (any color, sexuality or personality). However, yes, it is unapologetically black (as the author comments) and promoting love of oneself who does not usually see themselves in different forms of art and literature. But as with P for Pride, any child who needs that “boost” to find pride in themselves, can find it in these pages. And of course, it is a book for adults, too. There is just a lot of amazing things to learn, see, find and feel. The art is perfectly paired with the text to show the vision Rose wishes to give to the world.
Onto Black Girl Magic A Poem by Mahogany L. Browne. This book is also unapologetically black. It takes the stereotype of what a black girl “should be” (should have babies, not have an opinion, dress a certain way) and says, “F that! This is what you “should be” (proud, a leader).” The “conditioning of society” is tossed on its head, telling the reader the people that came before and here now. Some references might become dated (such as Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Viola Davis). They will be making history for years to comes, but I fear they might not have the same staying power of Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman. The two main issues I have with this short picture book is, first, there is little in the way of adaptation. While not every book should be meant for everyone, it is nice if anyone can find something to relate to. The second issue is I really did not like the art. It felt to be caricatures and unrealistic. However, Jess X. Snow created the work they wanted to give the story. They gave the images they feel show pride in oneself. Also, I am not completely sure if the art and text compliment each other but stand parallel to each other.
Both books are not easy to read, even if they are picture books. Both books are a 1 and a 5. If you pick them apart, you can find several problems. If you pick them apart you can see several amazing points. These are books you experience on a personal and emotional level. They can cement your beliefs or expand them. Ten people could read these books and in the end ten different books were read.