Though the Newsday reviewer doubts that mixed race kids wonder about the racial features of their soon-to-arrive siblings, I don’t. Since my “Heidi and Seal” post, I’ve wondered how little Leni will react to her new sister who will likely be brown like her brothers. I imagine that right now she might think that boys look like the dad and girls look like the mom. Since their new baby is said to be a girl, that theory (should it really exist in her mind and not just mine) could be blown out of the water.
Regardless of any of that, I’m so glad to know that this book exists and hope more like it will follow.
I’M YOUR PEANUT BUTTER BIG BROTHER, by Selina Alko. Knopf, $16.99. Ages 4-8.
Books that address issues in an obvious way can be a bore, but since books are a useful way to address issues, parents, teachers and librarians are constantly on the lookout for good ones. In Selina Alko’s “I’m Your Peanut Butter Big Brother,” a child in a biracial family wonders what the new baby will look like. The whimsical elaboration of possibilities makes this the rare “issues-book” you’d want to snuggle up and read with your kids.
“Baby, will your hair look like mine?” the boy asks. He considers the range of hair in his family: “Noel’s string beans locked this way and that, or Akira’s puffy broccoli florets? Maybe, like Auntie Angela, your mushroom bob will wave neatly in half-moon curls. Feathers might hang from a round coconut face. Or, like Grandma Helen, will sharp blades of grass stick straight up?”
Certainly no two parents, of the same race or not, look precisely alike, and I doubt that children are considering racial features when they wonder: “Baby brother or sister, will you look like me?” But in a world where skin tone, hair texture and eye shape carry social complexity, this book offers a welcome alternative vocabulary.
By Sonja Bolle