The much-anticipated Lupita Nyong’o picture book debut Sulwe tackles self-esteem, colorism and inner strength while following a young girl struggling to find self-acceptance and friendship.
Sulwe’s skin is the color of midnight, and she can’t help but notice she has the darkest skin in her family and at her school when her peers nickname her “Blackie,” “Darky” and “Night.” The teasing creates an inescapable sadness, and Sulwe tries to make her skin lighter by using an eraser on her own skin and eating light-colored foods.
Nyong’o, the Academy Award-winning Kenyan actress and producer (12 Years A Slave, Black Panther, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Us) details Sulwe’s insecurities with a meaningful journey through the stars. After learning about the two sisters who control night and day, Sulwe begins to understand that both light and dark are needed to make the world beautiful.
Sulwe’s journey has roots in Nyong’o’s own life—the story was inspired by bullying from her own childhood. “Much like Sulwe, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin,” she said. “My goal in writing Sulwe is to provide young children with a path towards seeing their own beauty, regardless of what society tells them.”
Illustrator Vashti Harrison, author and illustrator of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, gives rich beauty to Nyong’o’s words, filling the pages with nighttime skies and a beautiful contrast between the light and the dark.
Recommended for ages 4-8. Sulwe will be available on October 15.