Hello, friends! Our book today is If Dominican Were A Color, written by Sili Recio and illustrated by Brianna McCarthy, an ode to Dominican culture and the people who embody it.
What is the color of “Dominican”? Is it the blazing reds and orange of a setting sun, the deep green tints of shady palm leaves, or the neutral browns of café con leche? Or would it be the sounds of drumbeats, the sway of hips dancing the merengue, or the roar of a moonlight ocean? In truth, Dominican is no color, but all colors at once, and all the places and people the word represents.
Beautiful yet uneven. Recio writes with a clear passion for the Dominican Republic, and describes cultural and physical aspects of the island with beautiful, rich language that reflects this. However, when the story veers into commentary on colorism (something the DR has a long and particularly complicated experience with), it begins to stumble. Language surrounding skintones reads as slightly more divisive than was likely intended, especially in confusing lines like “If Dominican were a color it would be the shades of orange in the sunrise’s hue, the Haitian black on my Dominican back.” In the author’s afterward, she expresses a wish to affirm Dominican identities in all skin tones, hair types, and ethnic backgrounds; and in fact, McCarthy’s illustrations accomplish this particularly well, in addition to capturing the themes of bright color and lively energy. And while the text makes an effort to celebrate darker skintones and kinkier hairstyles, the effect is hit or miss. Otherwise, the length was fine for a storytime, and JJ did enjoy the beautiful illustrations and lyrical text. A few rough patches, but still worth a look, especially as a celebration of Dominican culture. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)