Black Is Brown Is Tan

Black Is Brown Is Tan

4.8 6
by Arnold Adoff, Emily Arnold Mccully, Emily Arnold McCully

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Brown-skinned momma, the color of chocolate milk and coffee pumpkin pie, whose face gets ginger red when she puffs and yells the children into bed. White-skinned daddy, not white like milk or snow, lighter than brown, With pinks and tiny tans, whose face gets tomato red when he puffs and yells their children into bed. Children who are all the colors of the race,


Brown-skinned momma, the color of chocolate milk and coffee pumpkin pie, whose face gets ginger red when she puffs and yells the children into bed. White-skinned daddy, not white like milk or snow, lighter than brown, With pinks and tiny tans, whose face gets tomato red when he puffs and yells their children into bed. Children who are all the colors of the race, growing up happy in a house full of love. This is the way it is for them; this is the way they are, but the joy they feel extends to every reader of this book.

Black is brown is tan is a story poem about being, a beautiful true song about a family delighting in each other and in the good things of the earth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Fragmented verse lovingly explores the colors of various multicultural families," wrote PW. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"Black is Brown is Tan" is a beautifully written poem by Arnold Adoff. First published in 1973, this delightful story marked the first acknowledgment of an interracial family in children's book publishing. With an African American mother, the skin color of chocolate, and a Caucasian father, who's skin is not white, but light in color with tans and pinks and all the colors of the rainbow, this story blends colors in such a way that the beauty of this family truly shines through. The two children, one light, one darker, exude the beauty of both parents. This book comes a long way in making a point of the unimportance of skin color. Right on the first page, the author says "black is brown is tan, is girl, is boy, is nose, is face." Skin is merely one of many descriptive elements of a person, an individual; and the author is like a composer with his descriptions. Their utter happiness and the comfort of their daily routine are no different from any other family. It is a joyous occasion to see a book that shows such wonderful harmony and acceptance in the hopes that it will bring those feelings to those who read it. A delightful book, well worth reading with your children in the hopes that they, too, will see color as merely that. 2002 (orig. 1973), HarperCollins Publishers,
— Emily Cook
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-A beautiful picture of an interracial home in which there is fun, security, and plenty of love. The text was first published in 1973 and remains the same. Members from both sides of the extended family come for visits. One of the lovely scenes shows "granny white" and "grandma black" arriving at the same time and then sitting congenially with the children "telling stories of ago." McCully has updated the illustrations with watercolor paintings to show the brown-skinned momma, the white daddy, and the two children in a 21st-century setting. For example, the earlier edition showed the father and son sitting in front of a typewriter, while in the updated version they are sitting in the same position, but the typewriter has been replaced by a computer. Children from interracial families will love reading about a family like their own and other youngsters will be provided with a window into such a home.-Dorothy N. Bowen, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author and illustrator of this groundbreaking 1973 portrait of an interracial family (Adoff and his wife, the late Virginia Hamilton, were the models) reunite for this updated overhaul. "Black is brown is tan / is girl is boy / is nose is / face / is all / the / colors / of the race . . ." Two children reflect on brown and white as they cover a daily domestic round, from jumping into the parental bed in the morning to "singing songs / in / singing night" on a moonlit porch, conveying in each verse a consciousness of color, but a far stronger sense of family closeness. The illustrations follow suit, showing the children with parents, grandparents, and relatives, working, playing, being together. And just as Adoff has reshaped the lines without changing the words, so McCully has plainly worked from her originals in placing and posing her figures, though the pictures are redone in a larger size, the family lives in a different house with modern details, and the father is now blond. As the number of interracial families goes up but their representation in picture books remains vanishingly slight, this fresh rendition still makes a cogent statement. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Re-illustrated Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.00(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Arnold Adoff has written over twenty-five books of poetry for young readers, including Slow Dance Heartbreak Blues, illustrated by William Cotton; and Street Music: City Poems, illustrated by Karen Barbour, both of which are available at your local library. He is the author of Malcolm X, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, and has also edited The Poetry of Black America. He has received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, and his trademark "shaped speech" writing style and his rhythmic poems have made him one of the most renowned children's poets of our time.

Mr. Adoff and his wife, celebrated author Virginia Hamilton, live in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Emily Arnold McCully has illustrated more than a hundred books for children, including her own First Snow and Arnold Adoff's Black Is Brown Is Tan. She won the Caldecott Medal for her book Mirette On the High Wire.

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Black Is Brown Is Tan 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jasmbea More than 1 year ago
this book is great! A must have for a interracial family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent source to educate and reconfirm to young children and adults that Love is from the heart and has no color. Regardless, Family is family and as people in God's garden, its what is inside a person and not what we see with our eyes. The book is simple but to the point.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a child of a white mother and a black father I've always looked for books that showed multiracial families...I was surprised how hard it was to find books like this one. Not only is it well written the pictures are beautiful and easy to understand. I wish there were more books like this one. It is great
Guest More than 1 year ago
I discovered this book in the media center of the pre-k school I teach at. As the mother of a biracial child I was so excited to stumble upon this book and love that I will have it for my child to read for years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is wonderfully spirited. It's a loving family story for all to enjoy. No matter what their heritage.