Chocolate Me!

Overview

The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

For years before they both achieved acclaim in their respective professions, good friends Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans wanted to collaborate on Chocolate Me!, a book based on experiences of feeling different and trying to fit in as kids. Now, both men are ...

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Overview

The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

For years before they both achieved acclaim in their respective professions, good friends Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans wanted to collaborate on Chocolate Me!, a book based on experiences of feeling different and trying to fit in as kids. Now, both men are fathers and see more than ever the need for a picture book that encourages all people, especially kids, to love themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's tough being the only African-American kid on the block. The young narrator's white acquaintances tease him ruthlessly about his name, his dark skin ("It's brown like dirt. Does it hurt to wash off?"), his wide nose, and his 'fro. It's enough to make any kid wish he were just like everyone else—until Moms offers just the right kind of comfort: "You have skin like velvet fudge frosting mixed in a bowl.... Cotton candy hair soft to the touch of my fingertips." The titular phrase is used like a refrain, initially a burden and later a celebration of self. Actor Diggs, making his children's book debut, gives an unvarnished take on the emotional impact of taunting that cuts to the core of one's identity, though not every reader will find satisfaction in the ending, in which the narrator is reconciled with his insensitive peers over chocolate cupcakes. But Evans makes the hero's journey to confidence irresistible, with bighearted, stylized pictures that draw on the emotionally exuberant vocabulary of street art and anime. Evans doesn't minimize the cruelty the boy suffers, but he makes it feel surmountable. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud offering is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety of subjects, not just race.” —School Library Journal

“Taye Diggs can act and sing, and now he proves he can write. With Chocolate Me!, the affable Diggs makes an assured foray into the children’s book category. Lavishly illustrated by Shane W. Evans, Chocolate embraces a difficult topic with wide arms: colorism.” —Essence

"Actor Diggs, making his children's book debut, gives an unvarnished take on the emotional impact of taunting that cuts to the core of one's identity… Evans makes the hero's journey to confidence irresistible, with bighearted, stylized pictures that draw on the emotionally exuberant vocabulary of street art and anime.” —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
A little boy is teased by Timmy, Johnny, and Mark because he is different. He has chocolate colored skin, but theirs is white so they think he should wash his color off. They wonder how he can comb his curly, poofy hair. They tease him about his wide, flat nose and how shiny white his teeth are. Since he is only five, he wants to be like the other kids and goes inside feeling sad and bad. His mother cheers him up by telling him his chocolate skin reminds her of rich fudge icing. His hair is like cotton candy to her and she loves plaiting it into corn rows. And his dazzling smile makes her cry with happiness. She makes him look in the mirror to see how handsome he is and gives him a tee shirt that says "Chocolate Me." Dressed in his new shirt and armed with chocolate cupcakes, the little boy goes back outside to make friends with the other boys. Children often are teased about looking or being different, so it is nice to have books that will make them glory in their individuality. A good book for using in discussions of tolerance. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A young African-American boy feels unhappy and self-conscious because of comments other boys make about his skin color, his hair, his nose, and even his white teeth. At home he asks his Moms, "Why can't I be more like Timmy or Johnny or Mark/with straight hair and a different nose?/I suppose my teeth wouldn't seem so bright/if my skin were a bit more light…right?" His mother reassures him by comparing his attributes to things he can relate to: "You have skin like velvet fudge frosting/….Cotton candy hair soft to touch…./And your smile….It's perfect." When the boy looks at himself in the mirror, he sees what his mother sees and loves "Chocolate me!" He shares his mother's chocolate cupcakes with the boys who have been teasing him. The protagonist is now happy with who he is, but youngsters may be left wondering, other than enjoying the treat, have the other boys changed? The cartoonlike illustrations are done in bold colors. Several spreads have only two words, "Chocolate me," in brown letters and show the boy wearing one of a variety of T-shirts with a message on it: "Be Super!" "You are my" (page turn) "#1" (page turn) "#1 Son!" With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud offering is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety subjects, not just race.—Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250068019
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 10/6/2015
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 643,169
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs is an actor whose credits include motion pictures (How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Chicago), stage (Rent, Wicked), and television (Private Practice). He lives in Los Angeles and New York City with his wife, the actress Idina Menzel, and their son.

Shane W. Evans is the illustrator of numerous award-winning books for children, including Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson, and Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper's Daughter, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He lives with his wife and daughter in Kansas City, Missouri.

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