Author: Karen Katz
Illustrator: Karen Katz
Publisher and Year: Henry Holt and Company, 1999
Number of Pages: 24
The Colors of Us is a picture book about a young girl named
Lena. Her mother is an artist and shows Lena how to paint skin color. Lena at first only thin
ks that brown is brown so her mom takes her around town and
shows her all the different colors of skin there is.
This book can function as a mirror or a window. On every page of this book there is a character from a different culture. Since there is so much culture a lot of readers can relate to the book if they see their own culture or similar skin color within the book. For a reader who hasn’t been exposed to the cultures that are in the text then it would function as a window. These readers are then looking into this book and seeing different cultures they may have never seen before. There is a lot of diversity within this text. Every page has a different race. On each page Lena sees someone she knows and points out the color of their skin and compares it with food. For example on page 7 there is a picture of Lena’s friend Jo-Jin who looks to be of Chinese decent and Lena compares her skin to the color of honey. I really like how the author describes the different colors of skin using food. For young readers they will have a better time imagining the colors when they are described using something they know. This way they will not just consider someone who has a darker completion as brown. Young readers will see that there are so many different shades of brown and that it’s okay to be darker or lighter than the people around them. Another thing I liked about this text is that in the image there are no gender stereotypes. The girls are playing sports, listening to music, or dancing. They are not confined by their gender to certain activities.
This text is full of beautiful colors. The images mirror the text perfectly. For example when Lena states that one of her friends skin is a “light cocoa brown” or ‘butterscotch” (Katz, page 9) the images actually resembles those foods. All the images are very close up and very detailed. On each page there is only one character with a busy background like a city street of restaurant. Even though the backgrounds are very small they are still filled with culture from the character that is taking up the page. I really enjoyed this book it has beautiful illustrations and the message that we are all the same just different shades is very clear.