BOOK REVIEWS

Happy in Our Skin Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-01 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 11 user ratings
ISBN:0763699721
LANGUAGE:English

"The book, Happy in our Skin, is a picture book written in rhyme that follows a biracial family through their neighborhood celebrating the differences all around us. I selected it for this text set because of its simple, yet important message that we are all beautiful. It shows the family engaging in everyday activities in their neighborhood and the happiness they feel as a family. Happy in our Skin was a “Best of Titlewave book in 2015 and has been positively reviewed by both Horn Book and The School Library Journal.
I made a connection with this book by looking at the illustrations and the joy the characters show as they enjoy spending time together. This book doesn’t address any of the challenges that some of the other books do, it shows the normalcy that a family can experience no matter what color your skin may be. Families are a joy and should always be celebrated.

Questions
1. Remembering- Who are the main characters of this story?
2. Understanding- Explain what the author means by the phrase, “your brand-new birthday suit.”
3. Applying- How would you classify the different ways the author describes our skin?
4. Analyzing- What examples can you find in the text to show that the author thinks our skin is pretty great?
5. Evaluating- Do you agree with the author’s words, “we all have skin, but nobody is you. You are one of a kind…” Why or why not.
6. Creating- Design a model that represents this story.
" said.

"Episode 7:
I’ve reached that point in my 20’s where pretty much everyone I know is having babies. I have two mom-to-be friends who love books as much as I do, and I know they will be consistently reading to their children and exposing them to a literary environment from an early age. I would love to give them children’s books as presents, but I want to go beyond the standard Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle repertoire. Do you have any recommendations for books that feature diverse characters and substantial stories? Both of my friends are giving birth to girls, so if you know of any books featuring inspiring, strong female characters that would be great as well! Thanks in advance! –Liz
Also:
Hi there! My best friend’s sister had a baby boy 9 months ago, and she’s looking for book recommendations to build up her baby boy’s library! She’s in the market for children’s books about/written by African Americans – any suggestions?

Episode 19:
2. I’m a children’s minister who loves books, and as such have parents asking me for recommendations for their kids elementary and middle grade ages. One type of book I’ve struggled finding is books with multi racial families especially that have foster or adopted children. These do not need to be specifically religious, just showing diverse families to show more modern day familes with fun and positive stories.
Thanks in advance
Shannon
Recommended by: Amanda
" said.

"A picture book all about skin and how important it is to our bodies, this book also celebrates the different colors of skin we all come in. The book begins with the joy of baby skin in all of its sweet colors of cocoa, cinnamon, honey and ginger. It then talks about how skin forms a protective barrier for you, forming scabs when you hurt yourself and growing along with you. The way skin reacts to sun and to cold is also talked about and then the book talks again about how your skin is unique and so is everyone else’s too.

Written in rhyming couplets, this picture book has a jolly galloping feel to it with they rhymes propelling the text along. The book is a wonderful mix of scientific information about skin that is appropriate for very small children and praise for the beautiful variety of skin colors that you see. This is a wonderful book to start discussing diversity with very small children. The urban setting is a delight with people of differing abilities, Muslim families, and children and adults of all races. The book does focus on one family in particular where one of the parents could be any gender, making this book all the more welcoming.

The illustrations by Tobia go a long way to making this book inclusive and diverse. From henna on hands to families of mixed races, these illustrations are celebratory of the vast diversity we have. At the same time, there is a universal nature to all of them, with all of the families loving their children, adoring their infants, and spending the day outside together as a community.

A fresh and lovely look at diversity for the smallest of children, this book will serve as both a mirror and a window for all. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
" said.

"Happy in Our Skin by Tobia Manushkin
Happy in Our Skin is a book full of kids of multiple diverse cultures. They aren’t focusing on one specific gender or race, there are families going to work, kids in wheelchairs, kids are sure to at least find one person they can relate to on one of the pages. This book has catchy song like lyrics that will want you to keep reading, it contains a few parts you will be forcing a rhyme. It explains how skin is different but that is what makes you, you. This book is great for when students start to ask questions about other cultures or differences.
Happy in Our Skin is the perfect introduction to young children as they start to wonder about why their skin color might be different. Or when they notice that someone else it dressed or doing something that they normally don’t see. Modeling positive attitudes respecting diverse students is important, Iwai (2015). Happy in Our Skin rhymes about skin colors in a playful way comparing to sweets: cocoa brown, cinnamon, honey gold, and even peaches and cream. It may not cover every single spice, but if it’s not mentioned directly in the story it is pictured. I have read this story numerous times and every time I read it, I notice something different in it’s playful illustrations. On the specific page where it mentioned the world being a "wonderful hullaboo", Manushkin (2015), you will see how our diverse characteristics are joined together flawlessly. According to Boyd, Causey, & Gaulda (2015), culturally diverse characteristics are not separate from race, ethnicity, and language; instead, they are intertwined.

Manushkin, F., & Tobia, L. (2015). Happy in our skin. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Iwai, Y. (2015). Using multicultural children’s literature to teach diverse perspectives, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 51:2, 81-86. DOI: 10.1080/00228958.2015.1023142

Boyd, B., B. & Causey, L., L. & Galda, L. (2015). Culturally diverse literature: Enriching variety in an era of common core state standards, The Reading Teacher, 68:5, 378-387. DOI: 10.1002/trtr.1326
" said.

"Happy in Our Skin, by Fran Manushkin

Rationale
I really enjoyed Happy in Our Skin and believe it is perfect for inclusion in a diversity text set, but not because it features one specific ethnicity, religion, sex, or ability. Instead, Happy in Our Skinis wonderful because it both celebrates diversity and explains how we are all connected. This would be the perfect opening book for a diversity text set, because its illustrations are populated with so many different perspectives of people and how they can look, and would be great for initiating a discussion on diversity. The text talks about how we all have skin, and how awesome our skin is -- it protects us, grows with us, heals when we get hurt, and is wonderful to hug and tickle! On the other hand, there are so many different types of skin -- freckled and wrinkled, peach and brown, and everything in between. Each page depicts people of many etnicities, skin colors, family makeup, religion, and ability; there are mixed-ethnicity families, differently-abled people (children in wheelchairs and a blind man, for example), women wearing headscarves, henna-painted hands, Hasidic Jews, and so much more. All of these different people are shown working, living, and playing with everyone else. What great conversation-starters! A teacher could use almost any page to introduce a half-dozen different cultures and diverse perspectives. I think almost every reader could find someone to identify with in this book. It reassures readers that we all share commonalities, but also celebrates the beauty of our differences: “Yes, we all have skin, but nobody is you. You are one of a kind, and your fingerprints, too” (p. 20).

Reflection: Text to Self
Growing up, I had the interesting experience of sharing almost every single thing with a person who looked like me, talked like me, and acted like me. In fact, according to many people, this person pretty much was me. Who was this person? My twin sister. Back in the 1970s, people seemed to assume that twins were exactly alike, and they treated twins as if they were the same person. This is an experience shared by many of my contemporary twin friends. How I wished I had dark hair and skin, brown eyes, curls, freckles (yes, I followed the recipe in Freckle Juice in a vain attempt to get some spots on my face!) -- anything would do, as long as I just looked different from my sister. It took many years for me to feel comfortable with being myself, independent of my sister. I connected so much personally to Happy in Our Skin because it showcased diversity, both inside and out. The pictures showed diverse people all getting along, working together and enjoying themselves; they are having fun being who they are in the skin they were born in, and that’s something that took a long time for me to be able to do.

Discussion Questions
1. Remembering – What are some of the words the author uses to describe the color of people’s skin?
2. Understanding – Why does the author say that big groups of people are “bouquets of people”?
3. Applying – Can you think of some other situations when it’s good to have a lot of variety? (food, clothes, colors, games, etc.)
4. Analyzing – (show page 9) Look at the people on this page. How are they the same, and how are they different from each other? How are you the same as and different from other people?
5. Evaluating – Do you think it’s good for people to be different from each other, or should we all be the same? Why or why not?
6. Creating – Can you make a list of words that describe you? Use the words to make a list poem about yourself.
" said.

"This children's fiction book is brilliant. Firstly, the images are amazing and extremely diverse. The book insinuates that children are born exactly how they are and they should love it. The wording is short and simple for little children. The pictures also show the different skin tones coming together to have a picnic together. The author compares the skin tones to nice food like cocoa, and cream. This comparison allows room for the normalization of what one child may look like. I love that there is a family represented in the book that is biracial. Overall, the quality of the book is a 5-star rating for me." said.

" A family with parents of different races is prominently featured throughout this book. " said.

" Simple rhyming picture book about our amazing skin and all the wonderful colors it comes in. " said.

April 2018 New Book:

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