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story.lead_photo.caption Sulwe, by Lupita Nyong'O and illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 15). (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

TITLE: Sulwe

BY: Lupita Nyong'O, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October) ages 4 to 8, 48 pages, $17.99 hardcover, $10.99 Kindle

STORY: A girl with very dark skin feels ugly. Her mother, father and sister have lighter skin, and they look beautiful to Sulwe. Children at school tease her. Feeling unworthy hurts so much she tries to erase her skin — until she can't stand the pain. She sneaks into her mother's makeup and makes a mess. She eats only pale foods: banana, bread, mushrooms, cauliflower. She prays for a miracle.

Heartbroken that God does not change her, she confides in her mother. Her mother gently explains that Sulwe is brimming with brightness. Her name, Sulwe, means "star." Although comforted, Sulwe remains unconvinced and sad.

One night, a star shoots through her window and carries her into the night sky where two luminous, huge sky sisters — Day and Night — enact a fable. It demonstrates how miserable the world would be without Night. Sulwe awakens to a new world in which she knows she belongs.

The author, an Academy Award-winning actress for her work in 12 Years a Slave, here tells a story from her childhood in Kenya. Vashti Harrison's illustrations make it wonderfully appealing.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

Style on 10/28/2019

Print Headline: READ TO ME

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