Cover Image: Sunflower Sisters

Sunflower Sisters

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Member Reviews

I adored this picture book from the get-go. Two friends are getting ready for family weddings, and each family has a different ideal for skin color. This story is a great way to explore colorism with younger kids.
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Two young girls, one South Asian, one Nigerian, are best friends. Both have family weddings coming up, and they are excited about all the preparations. This story details the issue of colorism. I had heard of this before, but I really like the way this book shines a light on it. Amrita's aunties show up to help her sister get ready for her wedding. They bring cream for her to wear that will make her skin paler, they also want Amrita to stay out of the sun so she does not get tanned, and not to wear yellow as it will make her skin appear darker. This is explained at the back of the book talking about the history, the reasons and why we need to help dispel the myths. Color is the main theme in the story with colorful clothing worn by the brides, the wedding parties, and, guests. The sad part is the discussion of the color of their skin. Some family members prefer lighter skin, while others are happy to embrace the skin they are in. I loved how their mother dealt with this and explained it all to Amrita, encouraging her to wear yellow and wiping the cream of her older daughter's face. The other thing I liked was the sharing of customs, particularly using the illustrations to show the beautiful, traditional clothing. As well, this is a story of friendship and acceptance. This is a wonderful book to have in schools, classrooms and public libraries.
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Amrita's sister is getting married, and with the wedding comes guests, including a bevy of Aunties with very distinct opinions about what is necessary to be beautiful.   Amrita and her sister are chided for being in the sun, for what they eat, for what colors they wear, etc.   Luckily her mother pushes back, explaining colorism to a bewildered Amrita and thoroughly dismissing it.    There is also a side plot about a wedding in the family of Amrita's friend and neighbor Kiki, which is not unpleasant, but I'm not sure how it fits in to the overall aim of the book.   

The complexity of the language and amount of text make this best suited to mid-elementary kids.   The art is absolutely gorgeous!  It's wonderfully vivid, detailed, and full of color.    This is a topic not often discussed in children's literature, so it's good to have another resource to start a conversation.  

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!
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Two young girls, one South Asian, one Nigerian, are both caught up in the preparations and excitement surrounding the weddings of their siblings. Color is the predominant theme here: the colorful clothing worn by the brides and the wedding parties, and, sadly, the color of skin. Some family members prefer lighter skin, while others are happy to embrace the skin they are in.

This is a lovely and fascinating look at family life, traditions, celebrations, and most importantly - self-acceptance.
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This book covers a topic, colorism, through a story about two weddings.  Two friends, Amrita and Kiki, each have a sibling getting married on the same day.  Amrita has an Aunty who thinks she shouldn't eat certain foods or where certain colors because it will.make her skin look dark (which it is naturally).  She doesn't understand and her mom explains that she can wear and eat anything because her skin color is beautiful and she should be proud of the skin she is in.  Both Amrita and Kiki wind up wearing yellow on the wedding day because they love sunflowers and want to look like them, strong, tall and beautiful.  This book brings light to an unfamiliar bias through a beautiful story that helps those of color be proud of the skin they are in.
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Thank you Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Kids, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing my copy.  

I enjoy reading for my children many books with strong message. This book is one of it.  With a simple plotline but straightfoward message about colorism, this book will courage kids to the beauty of differences in life, include skintone.  Real life and socialmedia could be mean and judgemental, so learn this healty behaviours since young age will useful for appreciating them self and respect another skintones peoples in their future life.
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In my opinion, this excellent book about colorism and racism that two girls have to deal with within their own families, is more for early middle - graders or older children. Younger children will love the illustrations [which are lush and colorful and absolutely gorgeous], but a lot of the story may go over their heads. Even so, it is a good starting point in teaching them that no matter what they look like, they are perfect the way they are and that colorism is something that no one should have to deal with. Older children will understand more and there will opportunities to have some serious conversations about what the story means and how they can apply what they learn from this book to their daily lives. There are important notes at the end that will add to the conversation [I found them to be very helpful]. 

Overall, I feel this is an important book that is a good starting point to introducing children to the dangers of colorism. 

Very well done. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Monika Singh Gangotra, Michaela Dias-Hayes - Illustrator, and SOURCEBOOKS Kids/Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Amrita and Kiki are neighbours both preparing for weddings. Amrita is bombarded with family members trying to encourage the bride and her to lighten their skin and be ashamed of their beautiful and darker skin tones. These two girls, with the help of their mothers, and less judgmental family members, learn to embrace their beauty and not listen to those who think only fair skin is beautiful. Each girl, one South Asian and the other Nigerian promise to be sunflower sisters - bright and beautiful and unashamed - as they grow up. 

The gorgeous and colourful illustrations help illuminate this story as two young girls grapple with the pressure of colourism. Luckily they have strong mothers and some helpful family members. While I loved the story a lot, and will definitely be adding it to my collection, I wish that the story would have shown Kiki also getting more advice from her family. The story mainly focused on Amrita. It would have been nice to have just a little more balance in that respect. This is a wonderful text and would be a good addition to helping young children to understand the prejudice of colourism and the hurt it brings. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Kids for this free eARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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I received an electronic ARC from SOURCEBOOKS Kids through NetGalley.
Powerful story of two girls who stand tall to be who they are. Readers see old concerns about skin color and how Amrita hears the prejudices of her aunties AND the affirmations of her grandmother, mom and dad. Her friend, Kiki, also has to face bias and also learns to believe in herself. The two make a pledge to support each other and the Sunflower Sisters are created. Readers see their friendship continue into adulthood. They see the store that sells their creative designs for both cultures. 
Beautiful and vibrantly colored illustrations bring the text to life. 
An empowering book for children of all cultures. The encouragement to be proud of who you are is a much needed message yet today. A great family read or terrific classroom/library read aloud.
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I really like the concept of this book, and think it's a very important message. However, the writing seems choppy and sometimes its confusing. I had to go back and read the scene with the bathtub a few times because I couldn't figure out how the grandmother felt about the shade of skin, since she sort of switched her stance after the mother spoke up. A few other times the text seemed to not flow well either. A good message but not well executed.
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A beautiful book about embracing heritage and skin color.  More picture books about colorism are required on our library shelves.  Will be adding this one to our school's to shed light on this very important topic. I can see a lot of discussion taking place after reading this book.  It can also be "paired" with many others to create an entire unit.
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This is a very important children's book. People learn how to love or  hate who they are from a young age. Children being raised around people who are shunning them for who they are, will affect them as adults. 

For example, these girls are being told that the darker their skin, the less beautiful they are. However, they also have family that are teaching them that everyone is beautiful in their own skin. Skin color does not make or break your beauty. Colorism is so real! As kids become pre-teens/ teens they might become exposed to colorism and its important that they accept themselves before people try to break them down.
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Two friends have older siblings getting married on the same day, and they both end up attending the weddings in sunflower yellow dresses.  This picture book does a good job of addressing colorism, as Amrita's aunt makes critical comments about the darkness of her skin and suggests various ways to lighten it.  Thankfully Amrita's mom feels differently and builds in Amrita a strong confidence in who she is.  The delightful pictures capture the joys of both the Indian wedding of Amrita's sister and the generic African wedding of her friend Kiki's brother.  The book ends with heart-warming images of the two girls, now grown women, starting a business together.  And this points out a problem with the book.  For most of the book, the focus is on Amrita and her family.  The sudden shift of focus to the girls and their friendship feels a bit jarring.  While I love the idea of Kiki and Amrita continuing to be friends, we needed more background on their friendship to really appreciate this.  The sheer joyfulness of the pictures and the importance of the topic it addresses help smooth over this rough edge.  I can't remember any other picture books addressing colorism.  Highly recommended.
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I love it when a picture book brilliantly blends in important, heavy discussion in a kid-friendly way. Colorism is indeed a heavy discussion, one that can upset a child of darker skin. However, the author has portrayed colorism within the Desi community without sounding like preaching or too difficult for the target readers. I loved the sisterhood between Amrita and Kiki, the celebration of Indian and Black African cultures through wedding, and how to confront and condemn colorism without losing your temper. The author has addressed many way colorism insidiously has seeped into the Desi culture through fairness cream, not going out in the sun, not drinking certain food like masala chai, or not wearing brightly colored clothes. I love all of it presented in a wholesome way.

Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks, for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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An elegant and wonderful way to tell kids to accept others as they are. And that everyone is beautiful.
The illustrations were lovely and beautiful. Would get for my younger sisters.
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Picture book.  Two young girls are friends and neighbors, and both families are having a wedding on the same day.  With all of the extended family visiting her house, Amrita is faced with a barrage of comments on how to make sure her skin stays light and doesn't get too dark.  When a well meaning aunty tries to slather lightening cream on the bride, their mother stepped in.  The actual wedding is beautiful, with the whole family in what appears to be traditional Indian dress and Amrita in bright yellow.  Her neighbor Kiki has family coming in bright African dress and chooses to wear bright blue.  

The  title is a bit misleading-- as the  girls dub themselves sunflower sisters in regards to their bright clothing.  The illustrations are lovely, and the skin tones of both families shine through.  The text came off as both wordy and didactic, with the repeated comments taking a toll early on.  Perhaps that was the author's intention, to show the constant microagressions faced by people of color.  Back matter explains colorism, why it is bad, and how we can fight against it.  A topic not often discussed in children's fiction.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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"The skin we are in is EXACTLY as it is meant to be." That message comes through in the story of friends Amrita and Kiki as they both prepare for family weddings. When Aunty arrives for the wedding and begins handing out skin-lightening creams and advice about staying out of the sun and avoiding certain foods, Amrita is puzzled and turns to her mother for guidance. Mom explains that some people see lighter skin tones as more beautiful and try all sorts of methods to change the color of their skin. 

Luckily for Amrita, her parents make sure she feels loved, valued, and confident. After attending her sister's wedding in a beautiful golden outfit that makes her feel like a lovely flower, Amrita peeks in to see her friend Kiki's family celebrating with Kiki's brother Yemi and his new bride. The two friends swear to always "make each other feel like sunflowers every day." A final montage shows the friends as they grow up and open a boutique together.

I was fortunate enough to see the author and illustrator talk about their book. Monika has a doctorate in psychology and also designs clothing. Michaela has a background in textile design and is also a children's book illustrator; she surprised the author by including some of Monika's designs in the  last spread of the book, which depicts a fashion show. 
Back matter explains what colorism is, how it can be harmful, and what we can do to change it.
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* Thanks to Netgalley, I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

With spirits as bright as the yellow of sunflowers, Amrita has a sweet and confident personality; a kindhearted girl turned into a knowledgeable young woman under her mother's proper guidance. Despite being dark skinned, she along with her best friend and sunflower sister Kiki thrives in a world that favors people with lighter skin color. The story begins with the characters actively preparing for the wedding of Amrita's elder sister Jas. With the arrival of relatives, Amrita is suddenly bombarded with advices and information on how to make her skin look lighter. Her mother boldly protests against all sorts of old fashioned beliefs, breaking stereotypes, raising her voice against colorism and making a dent in the society's misconceptions. She makes Amrita feel beautiful and accepted by praising her skin color, comparing it to the marvelous beauty of golden, brown autumn leaves. Kiki, other half of the Sunflower Sisters, shares a similar story. Kudos to the wisdom and strength of character of their mothers; for them both of the young girls grew up as enlightened human beings.

The story is of great value on numerous grounds. To me, the most potential characters here are not the girls but the adults. Grown ups influence the way children think and behave. Aunties, uncles, grandparents, especially mothers as kids look up to them for example. Having insightful and strong parental figures can prevent the problem to a great extent. I personally could have done a lot better if my mother shut down 'Aunties' every time they nagged me to do something about my brown skin, acne spots, overweight, short height etc. etc. etc. but no she has to be 'Polite'. That is why, I believe it is essential for the adults to read this book as well to know when to speak up. It shows us that it only takes one courageous person to break the pattern and inspire change. There are additional information on colorism at the end of the story, what it is all about, why it should avoided and how we can eradicate the problem from the society. The book is very informative without being boring and can be used as a great resource to introduce young kids to the world of favoritism. Breathtaking illustrations are definitely one of the highlights. The book would have been perfect if the writing was a bit better. The narrative flow could be improved but considering the educational value, it's all great.
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This was a beautiful story about being happy and being yourself. I love that Amrita's mother addresses each incident of colorism as it happens and points out the positives instead of the negatives.

Great book for the classroom or home library.
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This is a amazing story about colorism. I do feel that because the story was called sunflower sisters I expected to see more or kiki and amarita together. It seemed kiki was in a few pages but she never said much. Then we get this ending of them always being best friends. I feel like i wanted to see more of their friendship if that was the plot. If the book was only about colorism i think it would make sense to focus on amarita and kiki be a side character. Nonetheless this book is amazing!
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