Written By: Samara Cole Doyon
Illustrated by: Kaylani Juanita
For Ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Joy, BIPOC Narratives, Black Joy, Brown Joy, Friendship, Love, Family, Own Voices, Disability Representation, Mobility Aid Representation, Hearing Aids, Vitiligo, Hijab, Muslim Girls.
This book is stunning, the definition of Brown Joy. I’m completely obsessed already and read the book twice immediately after opening it. The story itself has a handful of narrators, and is written in lyrical prose much like I Am Brown and From Tan to Tamarind. The narrators fully embody happiness and comfortability in their own skin, exuberantly taking on a multitude of situations throughout the story.
And can we just talk about these illustrations for a moment?? Kaylani Juanita illustrated one of my favorite books, When Aidan Became a Brother, and has possibly outdone herself with her work between these book covers. You can practically hear the giggles tumbling out of the characters mouths and flowing off of the pages into the air entirely. The representation is exquisite. A father and his daughter going on a hike, but she has both a cane and a service dog. A pair of siblings at a fair, a family at the beach. But nothing is point out about mobility devices or hearing aids, they purely exist as representation of the beautiful world we live in. THESE are the normalizations in stories that we need, unadulterated Black and Brown joy full of self-esteem and confidence being explained with SAT-worthy vocabulary. I truly love this book, it’s described on the cover as a celebration but it’s so much more than that. The conviviality conveyed in this picture book draws on the strength of family, ancestors, friendship, and finding the everyday jubilance in our lives.
This book was generously sent to us by Tilbury House Publishers, but all opinions are our own!
Samara Cole Doyon
Samara Cole Doyon is both a second-generation Haitian American and a deeply rooted Mainer, with half of the roots of her family tree reaching generations deep into the soil of the Pine Tree State. She is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mother. She has been a regular contributor at Black Girl In Maine Media and has been featured in the “Deep Water” poetry column of the Portland Press Herald.
Kaylani Juanita is an illustrator based in Fairfield, CA who illustrates inclusive picture books, editorial art, and afros. Some of her clients include Chronicle Books, Cicada Magazine, and DEFY. Her work has been recognized by Society of Illustrators, The Huffington Post, as well as BBC. California grown and raised, she’s studied at Cal Arts and CCA for a BFA in Illustration. Her mission as an artist is to support the stories of the under represented and create new ways for people to imagine themselves. You can find her lurking in public secretly drawing strangers or writing nonsensical stories about who knows what.