Tan to Tamarind

By Booklist

Brown is beautiful in all its shades of skin color and in what children see, feel, taste, smell, and touch everywhere. Illustrated with pastel pictures in warm autumn colors, both dark and light, the simple poems celebrate the diversity and the connections in nature, culture, place, and language among blacks, Latinos, Indians, Native Americans, and many mixed-race kids. All the names for brown—from tan and sienna to honey, beige, and ocher—show the wonder of the senses: the tastiness of cocoa (the dark, sweet chocolate of the drink and of the hands that hold the cup), the crunchiness of autumn leaves, the big view of reddishbrown rocks and mountains in the Southwest, the brown topaz stone on the ring finger of a mother’s brown hand. The joyful graphic details range from the ocher-brown mehendi design on an Indian bride’s hands to an adobe home on the windswept desert. In a note, Iyengar remembers hating her brown skin as a child; her book shows how lucky she feels now.