Posted on November 14th, 2016 by pajamapress
“We rated this book: 4.5/5
At school, people make fun of Phoebe for her skin color, which is medium brown, and they call her ‘French toast.’ When she and her grandmother are taking a walk in the park, they walk past her school and the kids yell at her and laugh. Her grandmother doesn’t know why they’re laughing. She is blind, so she can’t understand skin colors. She asks Phoebe to describe her skin color and her family’s. Phoebe finally uses foods to describe the colors. She says her skin is like ‘tea after you’ve added the milk’ and her grandmother’s is like ‘maple syrup poured over…French toast.’ She ends up feeling better in the end because talking about it helps.
When Nan-ma says she has been told her mom is white, Phoebe laughs because white people aren’t really white. All people are just different shades of brown. I like the illustrations because they are mainly different colors of brown, too, and warm colors. The story is set at either sunrise or sunset in winter, which makes it even browner. This book is great for all ages and all colors.”
—Kilian – Age 8
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Posted on November 11th, 2016 by pajamapress
‘Even though Nan-ma’s blind, she sees things others do not.’
And so begins this book whose message to be proud of one’s culture and nationality shines through. Phoebe has a good relationship with her grandmother who is blind. On weekends she is her neighborhood guide. As a mother, I liked that this story included a grandma and her wisdom. When Phoebe has to explain why the boys from school yelled out, ‘Hey, French Toast!’ to her, she is embarrassed because she knows it’s because of the color of her skin.
Since her grandmother has never known the colors of skin, she asks Phoebe what color her skin is. So Phoebe describes it like tea after milk is added. And so the story continues. With Nan-ma’s gentle prodding, Phoebe gets to talk and think about her parents. She explores in her mind what she loves about them, her childhood, her favorite foods and her mixed nationality.
Living in Quebec, we are very familiar with the French-Canadian culture and mixed marriages among the very diverse ethnic groups that live here. My son and I enjoyed this story and we liked its message. It’s a book that should resonate well with children living in Quebec and perfect to introduce others to a culture that embraces mixed marriages. Children need to feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Using food to bring out the beautiful qualities of a culture works well. My son and I were getting hungry reading this book!
The illustrations use earth-tone colors and are soft. They are a mix of digital media and acrylic. What this means is that they are a mix of real-life photos with the drawings. So, the faces of the characters, for example, are actual real photos but blended in with the drawings. My son noticed it right from the first page and told me he is not fond of this technique. I had to look more closely. In the end, we agreed that the way the illustrator blended the two worked well and also the way he highlighted the food and brought it out in the illustrations was unique.
This book would make a great addition to a home or school library. It is an excellent way to introduce new cultures and to open the discussion of how to embrace who we are.”
—Laura Fabiani & Son
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