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4.66  ·  Rating details ·  9,042 ratings  ·  1,892 reviews
A New York Times bestseller!

From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Jeri Silfies Start at her current age and read it many times until she stops asking for it or learns to read it for herself. Good for mother daughter bonding.
Cindy I caught it on the Netflix series Bookmark - it's a beautiful thing…moreI caught it on the Netflix series Bookmark - it's a beautiful thing(less)

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Average rating 4.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,042 ratings  ·  1,892 reviews

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Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The art. The story. The message. Wow this brought a tear to my eye. <3
Wonderful! This is one of my top 5 new 2019 picture books of the year. This is a little biographical we find out in the author’s note.

Sulwe has dark skin like midnight while the rest of her family has lighter tones and her sister has a golden tone to her skin. Sulwe prays for lighter skin and the ability to make friends and not be teased. Her mama tells her the most beautiful story or legend of daylight and nighttime. The people love the sun and hate the night, until nighttime leaves and then da
“Sulwe was born the colour of midnight.”

I read books like these and I think about how some people have the strength to become or be parents.

Short but beautifully hopeful and impactful. A young child is being taught the lesson of beauty in all its forms since she’s questioning her own, in particular her skin colour. She’s being taught that beauty is more than what’s on the outer, it’s one part of you, light doesn’t exist without darkness, you are worthy, you matter, you matter.

This had me t
Christina Marie
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of COURSE I loved this. The story was so perfect for the mind of a young dark skinned girl. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and anyone that experiences them will be able to appreciate them.

I’m so honored to have experienced this story. Even as the 32 year old that I am. As a young black girl, while I’m not the darkest, I certainly wasn’t the lightest. And I was outside a lot, so I was darker as a kid. I remember the names “moose”, “monkey”. I remember running to my mom when some boy
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE

POWERFUL —seems too easy of a word to describe the debut children’s book by Lupita Nyong’o. Yet, powerful, may not do it enough justice. Colorism is an extremely challenging subject to broach and tackle, especially among people of color. However, Sulwe approaches the issue with such honesty and candor that it invites a much needed discussion.

Brightness is not in your skin...Brightness is just who you are”

With the beautiful illustrations, provided by Vashti Har
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fridays are my most hectic day of the week with cooking, baking, cleaning, and other preparations. I rarely have time to read so lately I have chosen to use the day for poetry and children’s books. Recently I noticed a new children’s book by Star Wars actress Lupita Nyong’o on my library’s web site. Illustrated by Caldecott winner Vashti Harrison with a sparkling purple cover, Sulwe stands out even for the youngest readers. With Caldecott potential illustrations, I could tell that Sulwe’s story ...more
Dave Schaafsma
My family reads all the Goodreads-award-nominated picture books every year. This is book #19 (of 20) of 2019, and we liked it. It was written by Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o and digitally illustrated (in her second nominated book this year), Vashti Harrison. The story is about Sulwe, who grows up wanting to be lighter-toned as her mother and sisters are. So it’s about colorism and self-esteem, including a dream/fantasy sequence about Night and Day that helps Sulwe believe in herself

Harry (15, t
MissBecka Gee
Breathtaking illustrations with a positive message in self esteem.
I found the writing kind of hollow and wish more feeling had been injected into the phrasing.
The author's note at the end held so much more emotion than the actual book.
Stephanie Anze
"Brightness is not in your skin...Brightness is just who you are”

Sulwe is darker than everybody else around her. Darker than her sister, parents and the kids at school. Sulwe does not like bbeing different or standing out. She longs to be lighter so she can be beautiful too. Her mother assures Sulwe that she is already beautiful but it will take a special journey for her to believe it and embrace it.

Lupita Nyong'o is the author of this gorgeous book. Captivating and strong this is a great debut
Feb 15, 2020 added it
I will never get over the beauty that is Vashti Harrison's work. She brings beauty and magic and and dream-like quality to her illustrations that is stunning and gives the story so much life.

Some of these spreads I wouldn't mind blowing up as full posters and displaying as art pieces.

The story navigates the struggles of colorism through the eyes of a sweet little dark skinned black girl in such a meaningful and poignant way. A good read for anyone- pick it up!
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this for my mother and sister to read to their young students, but I wanted to read it too! This book is perfect for helping young kids find the beauty in their dark skin. And the illustrations are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a children’s book.
Nicole M. Hewitt
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

This book is stunning in just about every way imaginable. The story follows little Sulwe, who struggles to see her own beauty because of the darkness of her skin. Sulwe wishes she could look more like her parents, more like her sister, more like the other boys and girls at her school. Like most children, she doesn't want to feel different---and her dark skin doesn't make her feel special or unique, no matter what her m
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeously illustrated. Sulwe, the color of midnight, believes she is too dark compared to her family of dusk, dawn, and high noon, and yearns to be fair, beautiful, and befriended. Her mother tells her, "When you are darkest is when you are the most beautiful. It's when you are the most you." She learns to accept and celebrate the darkness and lightness within and without. Empowering book for a child unhappy with the color of his or her skin. ...more
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
i cried so much while reading this precious story about a girl accepting her own beauty.
Tonja Drecker
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful book and tale, which takes a problem many children can relate to and then sweeps it off into the world of imagination and dreams in a lovely fairy tale.

While Sulwe believes every single one of her family members is beautiful, she's convinced that her own darker skin makes her uglier than them. The teasing and taunting at school doesn't help matters. Sulwe tries everything she can to make her skin lighter, but nothing works. Mother, of course, tries to explain how gorgeous she
DeeTimes' Reading Nook
REREAD: This book written by actress, Lupita Nyong'o gives an uplifting tale of a little girl named Sulwe,"born the color of midnight" learning how to accept the color of her dark skin... truly a beautiful picture book!

"Sulwe dreamed of being the same color as her sister. She wanted real friends too." So she got the biggest eraser she could find and tried to rub off a layer or two of her darkness. That hurt!"
"Dear Lord, Why do I look like midnight when my mother looks like dawn?"

"Brightness is
Stunningly beautiful illustrations accompany a deceptively simple story of a girl with skin much darker than everyone else in her family, and who feels ashamed for it. After a wonderful visit by a shooting star, she comes to see the value and beauty in herself and her dark skin.
The idea that being dark means one is inherently bad or stupid is incredibly damaging, and this lovely little story shows young children feeling the same way as Sulwe that there is beauty within oneself, regardless of ski
Mariah Roze
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book to my students today. I work with mostly Asian students so I was really interested to see what they would think. The students were all 4th graders and the book went over their head. They didn't understand why she was riding on a star or why she didn't like looking black like the night.

I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a great way to teach kids about loving themselves no matter what they look like and what others around them look like. However, I think the way that the
Rod Brown
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Goodreads Choice Awards Project: Read as many of the Best Picture Book nominees as possible. 6 to go!

Terrific sentiment and beautiful art, but the story-within-a-story lost me (it's basically a dream sequence, which I hate), so the change in the girl's thinking in the end didn't land as well for me as it should have.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With gorgeous illustrations, Sulwe, a name from the Luo word for star, encourages children who are uncomfortable with the color of their skin to love themselves as they are and to find beauty within themselves. This is a beautiful children's picture book about colorism. ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The cover on this book is beautiful. The illustrations inside are more of the same beautiful artwork. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. There is also a gorgeous picture of Lupita Nyong'o in the back. This is her story about dealing with accepting the color of her skin.

I picked up this book based on an interview I saw where she tells about not being aware of her skin color until her sister, who is lighter skin-colored than her, was born. She started noticing how others around her would complim
Jillian Heise
Beautiful book & Vashti Harrison's endearing characters illustrations which elevate to stunning in the mythology section. Will recommend it and buy it. Just wish author/editor had trusted it enough to let it end on the second to last page which felt more natural and less didactic of an ending than the last line on the last page. ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories About Colorism and/or Self Esteem
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o makes her children's book debut with Sulwe, a lovely picture-book about a young girl who struggles with issues of self worth because of her dark skin. Wishing she were lighter skinned like her mother and father, convinced she would have more friends if she was more like her sister, Sulwe attempts to lighten her skin herself, until her mother steps in and reminds her that her name means "star," and that she has a light all her own. But what does that m ...more
Renée | Book Girl Magic
Just finished reading this to Tenley and it is absolutely the most beautiful book! Not only were the illustrations breathtaking, but the message of loving the brown skin you’re in was just as beautiful too. Had no idea what the book was about when I originally received it but wanted it specifically because I knew Vashti did the illustrations and who doesn't love Lupita? A great message on how beautiful dark skin is and how much light(ness) can't survive without darkness. Left my little brown ski ...more
Arielle ✨ Chelsea's Nebular Ally and Team Orion ✨
This book is GORGEOUS and so is the message❤️
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just wow! That was a lot of emotion packed into such a short story. I loved every moment of it.
Jasmine from How Useful It Is
Read for my toddler's bedtime. Good story about the color of our skin, especially for little girls who were unhappy to be born with dark skin. I loved the reference to night and day vs light skin and dark skin. The world need both nights and days so light skin and dark skin were both needed.

Read from kindle unlimited.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Beautifully illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Academy-award winning actress Lupita Nyong'o has written about a young very dark-skinned girl (Sulwe), whose self-esteem is low. She thinks her fair-skinned sister is beautiful, and her mother tells her she is too, just because that's a mother's role. As she looks around and sees the beauty around her, Sulwe eventually figures out that real beauty comes from ... within. Nice story. ...more
Day told her sister, 'When you are darkest is when you are most beautiful. It is when you are most you.'


Never have I ever read a more precious picture book with some of the most stunning art. Everything about Sulwe is so important and I want every single person to read this. I hugely admire Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison for their powerful storytelling and illustrations
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2020 Roe Reading ...: Sulwe 2 4 May 30, 2022 11:42AM  
2020 Roe Reading ...: Sulwe 3 7 May 19, 2022 07:39AM  
2020 Roe Reading ...: Sulwe 2 4 Feb 22, 2022 01:48AM  
2019 Roe Reading ...: Sulwe 1 1 Aug 19, 2021 12:08PM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Empowering Picture Books with Black Characters 1 3 Feb 05, 2021 07:29AM  
2019 Roe Reading ...: Sulwe 1 1 Sep 30, 2020 03:43PM  

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Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and producer. Her first feature film role was in the film 12 Years a Slave, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as multiple accolades, including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. She has since starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, Star Wars: The Fo ...more

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“Day told her sister, "When you are darkest is when you are most beautiful. It is when you are most you.” 6 likes
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