THE BLACKER THE BERRY
JOYCE CAROL THOMAS

PRESENTS
"What shade is human?"  Thomas's evocative, colorful poetry seeks to answer that question with this celebration of the diversity of African-American children across the spectrum.  From "Raspberry Black" to "Golden Goodness", Floyd Cooper's soft and realistic illustrations almost leap from the page, incorporating natural images from the text in their depiction of a gallery of beautiful, self-confident children.

Different intraracial social issues related to skin color are handled with truth and respect.  For instance, in the poem "Snowberries", a fair-skinned child speaks back to those who would question her identity: "The words cut deep down/Beyond the bone/Beneath my snowy skin/Deep down where no one can see/I bleed the 'one drop of blood'/That makes Black me."

As the epigraph states so truthfully, "Colors, without black/couldn't sparkle quite so bright." (Picture book poetry, ages 5-10.)  Kirkus Review (starred): "Black comes in all shades from dark to light, an each is rich and beautiful in this collection of simple, joyful poems and glowing portraits that show African American diversity and connections."

"In this title poem, a smiling girl says, 'Because I am dark, the moon and stars shine brighter.'  Other pages have fun with terms, such as skin deep and night shade.  A grandma turns 'Coffee will make you black' from a warning into something great.  A boy is proud to be raspberry black as he reads his great-greatgrandmother's journal about her love for her Seminole Indian husband." - ALA (American Library Association).