Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Brown Sugar Babe” as Want to Read:
Brown Sugar Babe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Brown Sugar Babe

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  55 reviews
When a little girl has doubts about the color of her skin, her mother shows her all the wonderful, beautiful things brown can be!

"I don't want to be brown!" says a little girl about her skin. But so many beautiful things in the world are brown -- calming beaches, cute animals, elegant violins, and more. Brown is musical. Brown is athletic. Brown is poetic. Brown is powerfu
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Boyds Mills Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Brown Sugar Babe, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Brown Sugar Babe

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  168 ratings  ·  55 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Brown Sugar Babe
Fiona Halliday
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a glorious, joyous, anarchic and poetic celebration of brown skin, accompanied by beautiful, dancing illustrations by Akem. Each page is drenched in the warmest hues of browns, mahoganies, reds, ochres, coppers, golds and yellows - desert storms whirl, and lightning-struck skies spin, snakes strike and trees raise their mighty arms. It is a whirlwind of words, a tornado of sensations, alive in celebration of black identity and brown skin.

And it is beautiful.

Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The art in this is gloriously beautiful! The message is wonderful and well executed. I was deeply saddened but not surprised by the authors note in the end about children's reactions to identical dolls except for race.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it

Very lyrical.

A pleasant read with a very powerful message.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So Beautiful!
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Great concept but I found the poem hard to read aloud. The pictures were lovely but the words didn’t sing for me. It was fine.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Personally, I felt the poetry was a *little* bit long but the words were powerful, loving, and lyrical. After a mother hears her child refer to herself as being "pink," she expresses all the ways brown can be beautiful; the accompanying illustrations are superb, making BROWN SUGAR BABE a stunningly beautiful read. I could see this book being used for poetry units and for one-on-one reading with kids.

Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Book I Want To Give To My Future Daughter: Review of ‘Brown Sugar Babe’

In Brown Sugar Babe, the creative team of writer Charlotte Watson Sherman and visual artist Akem gives us the most delightful journey of validating Brown skin through the wonders of everything ordinary and extraordinary in the world. We learn that here when a little girl has doubts about the color of her skin, her mama shows her the light. And by light I mean, mama dukes shows baby girl what’s up and also where the lovely
Ben Truong
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brown Sugar Babe is a children's picture book written by Charlotte Watson Sherman and illustrated by Akem Akem. It is a story about a caregiver response to a child's misgivings about being brown skinned by extolling the beauty of being a brown sugar babe.

Sherman's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and lyrical. While some of the imagery is less effective than others, the text overall provides a creative and uplifting celebration of brownness. Backmatter includes an author’s note offerin
Kwanzaa Coloring Book Games & Puzzles
The book is beautiful, the entire design is gorgeous. Also, the book is about providing positive affirmations for children about their skin color. For those readers that don’t understand why this is important, read the author’s note first before you read the book. Brown Sugar Babe ((#brownsugarbabe) takes children on a mystic journey and shows them why brown skin color is just as special as any other skin color. Furthermore, the author’s note makes it clear that there is still work to be done to ...more
Amy Nielander
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What set this picture book apart for me immediately was the entrancing marriage of text and art. Akem's lush warm colors serve as a stage for the poetry to lift right off the pages. The dialogue between mother and daughter presents a gentle conflict to the reader: the daughter does not want to be “brown” while the mother explains the wondrous qualities of the color. Through sumptuous, sensory driven words Charlotte Watson Sherman uses positive imagery to help the child understand,
brown is glorio
Katelyn Aronson
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the back matter of this picture book, the author notes, "My prayer is that Brown Sugar Babe will help brown-skinned children love the skin they are in." Could there be a more beautiful motive behind her writing? The result is a lovely, lyrical ode to all of the rich nuances of the color brown. The poetic text, paired with warm, glowing illustrations, evokes all the most wonderful manifestations of this hue throughout life. Author and illustrator have created a book of affirmation that will no ...more
Randi Sonenshine
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brown has so many beautiful iterations in our world, and in this loving tribute to brown babes everywhere, Charlotte Sherman shows that in the best possible ways. “Brown is a sand dollar glinting on the beach in winter...the crunch of peanuts between our teeth...branches reaching toward the heavens above.” The lovely lyrical language and Akem’s rich, bold, earthy illustrations reflect that same brown beauty. An author’s note lends further insight to the inspiration behind the book and underscore ...more
Jolene Gutiérrez
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful book is Charlotte Watson Sherman's love letter to the color brown--a poetic celebration of brown and a reminder of how important this color is. Sherman's back matter explains how why she chose to write this important book after hearing a child of color identify as pink instead of brown. Sherman discusses Kenneth and Mamie Clark's "doll tests" and how the color of a child's skin may impact self-esteem if that child doesn't have positive brown-skinned role models. Sherman's gorgeous ...more
Norene Paulson
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
BROWN SUGAR BABE is a powerfully written and stunningly illustrated book that exemplifies the beauty of being born brown. The text, written in delicious sensory metaphors and similes, and the exquisite illustrations make this story an amazing affirmation and celebration of brown skin in all its differing tones. The Author's Note reminds us why books such as this are still crucially needed if we ever want to eradicate racially-motivated stereotypes. An exceptional book that deserves a place on ev ...more
Elizabeth Bedia
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous, lyrical story about the beauty of the color brown. When a young child begins to doubt her skin color, her mother takes her on a lyrical journey showing her there is so much beauty, strength, and love in the color brown, and it should always be embraced with pride. Akem’s rich illustrations provide a beautiful backdrop to Sherman’s poetic text. An author note provides insightful information from Sherman on how she came to write this compelling story. This is an important and powerful ...more
Rashmi Bismark
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My children and I just read this book together last night, and my own "brown sugar babes" loved it. We all enjoyed the endless ways to celebrate all the glorious shades of our brown skin shared by Ms. Sherman. Her sensory-rich imagery is beautifully paired with moving illustrations by Akem. I also really appreciated Ms. Sherman's heartfelt Author's Note. It prompted a thoughtful discussion in our house around the importance of honoring the skin you are in. This book reads like a love letter all ...more
Carolyn Leiloglou
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When a young, black girl decides she is “pink” her mother describes all the ways that brown is sweet, bold, and beautiful.

The author's poetic, sensory language captivates her readers, and the lush illustrations in brown hues suit the text.

The author’s note in the back explains how important it is for brown-skinned kids to be able to see themselves as beautiful and good the way they are. But I’ll add these books are just as important for white families to read to remind their kids to see all peop
Jun 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
Nope. Didn't work for me. The poem, the fonts, and the illustrations all fell flat. Maybe if this book was published 15 years ago? The simplicity of saying "your skin is beautiful because it's similar to beautiful things in the world" isn't terrible, but Black and brown kids need lot more than that right now. Personally, I recommend skipping this one and picking up Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o or the classic Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff.
Anita Amin
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When a young girl tells her mom she wants to be pink, not brown, her mom helps her understand how important and universal the color brown is. Poetic and uplifting, this picture book is an ode to the beauty of brown. Soft illustrations in shades of brown (A wonderous surprise on how there are so many different shades!) with beautiful lilting text evoke all of the senses. A joyful and endearing addition of diversity needed for any library - school or home.
Skylaar Amann
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, uplifting, and lyrical poem-story that celebrates brown skin. The illustrations are rich in color, deep and textural, and perfectly support the vivid writing. I love this joyous celebration, and it is sure to resonate with children as they learn about themselves, their skin, their families, and cultures. A lovely text that sings its way off the page.
Dorothia Rohner
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous textural illustrations compliment the powerful message of this story. The rhythm of the language made me want to read it aloud. Lyrical words allow the reader to taste, smell, touch, hear and see the magnificence of the color brown. Each page turn revealed a more dramatic and emotional connection. An uplifting and heartwarming story for a child of any color.
Nanette Heffernan
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully warm story about acceptance. When a little African American girl wishes to be pink her mother shares all the joys of her beautiful skin color, brown. Sherman’s lyrical words gently lull the reader through a touching story of all the amazing examples of brown in our world; the most important of which is lovely, brown skin.
Katia Wish
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a powerful poem admiring and appreciating the beauty of brown skin. The author asks the reader to notice and celebrate brown around us through all the senses - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. And the book goes further - through a lyrical, metaphorical interpretation of brown. The illustrations incorporate gorgeous browns, reds, and golds.
Cathy Ogren
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
BROWN SUGAR BABE is a delicious story of a mother’s love and a child’s acceptance of being comfortable in her own skin. The lyrical text delights and the magical illustrations are lush with rich earth tones of brown, yellow, red, and orange in double-page spreads. It's a tasty read aloud to be shared again and again.
A.J. Irving
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pb
This poetic love letter to all brown-sugared children of the world is powerful and elegant and gorgeous. BROWN SUGAR BABE delivers a beautiful message to all brown children to be proud of who they are, and love the skin their in. A joyful, important, and empowering picture book that should be on every bookshelf.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, kids
This is a great book about loving the skin you are in. I learned that Brown vs Board had a doll test which proved that many children preferred light skin to dark skin. I just had an 8-year old tell me while playing a fashion game that she loved the dark skin and hair character. There is beauty in so many forms. Life would be boring if we were all the same.
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
For child who colors herself pink and says she doesn’t want to be brown, the mother in this story shares all the wonderful things that are brown. It’s a book of joy, to be sure, but I’ve read several similar books and it’s not my favorite. Although it goes a bit of a different direction than others, it still feels like maybe it doesn’t go deep enough.
Kristen Schroeder
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The poetic text and rich illustrations come together perfectly in this story of a mother telling her daughter all the ways being brown is beautiful. I loved the backmatter/author's note, which tells of Charlotte's inspiration for writing BROWN SUGAR BABE in addition to highlighting research showing how important it is for brown-skinned children to love the skin they're in. Lovely and important book!
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful celebration of brown! Charlotte Watson Sherman’s lovely, lyrical text sings. And Akem’s illustrations are full of depth and gorgeous shades. A message of acceptance and love. I highly recommend BROWN SUGAR BABE!
Lisa Katzenberger
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely, lyrical story about a young girl being shown how to appreciate her brown skin. The art and words marry perfectly and evoke beautiful images. Wrapped up with a moving author’s note at the end, this is a must-read for children of all colors.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration
  • I Believe I Can
  • Dance Like a Leaf
  • Lloyd Finds His Whalesong
  • Nana Akua Goes to School
  • Piglette
  • Bess the Barn Stands Strong
  • Bedtime Bonnet
  • Library’s Most Wanted
  • Alien Tomato
  • Finding Om
  • The Nest That Wren Built
  • I Am Brown
  • National Regular Average Ordinary Day
  • You Matter
  • Mac and Cheese and the Personal Space Invader
  • The Stray
  • The Ugly Doodles
See similar books…
Born Charlotte Denise Watson, in 1958 in Seattle (Washington), the eldest of three children in a working class family. Displayed an early interest in literature. Dreamed of being a writer since third grade when Pippi Longstocking hijacked my imagination.

My mother believed it was dangerous for a daughter to always have her head in a book -- which led to reading by flashlight beneath bedcovers, a g

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
42 likes · 19 comments