Written By: Nancy Johnson James
Illustrated by: Constance Moore
For Ages: 3 years and up
Topics Covered: Family, BIPOC Families, Poetry, Self-Esteem, Own Voices.
This beautiful poem is told from the perspective of a child describing the variety of skin tones found in their family. The child uses intentionally sweet (pun intended) language and makes references to various foods when describing parents, cousins, and other family members.
I really enjoy how this poem could be used for a variety of ages, be the catalyst for an art project, or an empowering mantra. The language is celebratory and uniquely shows how many different shades can be in a single family. I’m in love with the watercolor illustrations, and how the narrator espouses a devotedness for mixing and labeling the exact paint shades for his loved ones. Brown: The Many Shades of Love is a paramount own voices book that conveys joviality, links memories, and celebrates family above all.
This book was kindly sent by Cameron Kids, but all opinions are my own. Brown: The Many Shades of Love is out today!
Nancy Johnson James is a writer and educator. She has an MFA from St. Mary’s College of CA and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her Education Specialist Credential was earned at the California State University – Sacramento. She is particularly interested in producing children’s literature that nurtures creativity, deep thought, environmental consciousness and self-esteem. Her poetry has been featured in several publications and she has been a contributor to curriculum for elementary and secondary students.
From Constance’s Website:
“Artist, Educator, Illustrator
I am concerned with presence, creating work about people, objects and ideas that are felt but not always seen in this world. I share my young students’ enthusiasm and love of color. I hope to transmit their spirit and freshness into my work. Whether figurative or abstract, at it’s core, my work is narrative.
Making art is a series of uncoverings, multiple understandings reveal themselves as we create. Making art is often two steps forward, one step backwards and six steps to the side. When I was a new teacher I taught in a linear fashion. But art does not evolve in a linear manner. Art moves across disciplines and builds skills in multiple areas, in multiple ways. Art connects body, soul and brain.
When I make art I translate my thoughts, feelings, and impressions into the language of visual art -with its own rules and flexible structures. When students make art they are engaged in this same form of translation. It is deep thinking, critical thinking, analysis. I believe Art Education is essential to education. Art makes us smart.
Collaboration is vital to our growth as artists and thinkers. Collaboration is a cornerstone of my teaching practice as well as my personal art practice. Borrowing a color palette from the elementary art rooms where I teach, my work is bright and playful. Underlying the use of playful colors and materials is a serious investigation of imbalance – a result of the human impulse to dominate our environment, each other, and the natural world while simultaneously being driven to create a better more peaceful, loving and sustainable existence.
The use of simple forms, bright colors and text allows the viewer to approach my work with confidence and security. As a teaching artist I use humor and playfulness to push my students. In the same way I hope my art gently coaxes the viewer in. Once they have arrived, if willing, the work asks viewers to think, to participate, to reconsider, and to take pleasure in exploring the various layers for understanding.”