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black is brown is tan Paperback – January 6, 2004

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Originally published in 1973, Black Is Brown Is Tan was the first children's book to feature an interracial family. In this 21st-century version, with new, sunlight-drenched watercolors, Mom is still "a tasty tan and coffee pumpkin pie / with dark brown eyes and almond ears," and Daddy is "light with pinks and tiny tans / dark hair growing on my arms / that darken in the summer sun / brown eyes / big yellow ears." The happy, normal family goes about their day, drinking milk, barbecuing, spending time with grandmas and aunts and uncles, and reading stories. Throughout, they celebrate "all the colors of the race":
black is brown is tan
is girl is boy
is nose is
face
is all
the
colors
of the race
This warm and loving story is just as meaningful today as it was decades ago. Readers from multicultural families, especially, will appreciate this tribute to the diversity of the American family from renowned poet Arnold Adoff (Touch the Poem) and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator, Emily Arnold McCully (Mirette on the High Wire). (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fragmented verse lovingly explores the colors of various multicultural families. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064436446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064436441
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Arnold Adoff is the wonderfully insightful author of this easy to read, realistic poem/book. We originally bought one copy of this book about 16 years ago and since have donated it to elementary and middle school libraries all over out city.
Mr.Adoff instills a sense of self esteem in all members of a multi-racial/multi-cultural family while using poetry to make it even more memorable. The artwork will entice you to discuss the theme and allows little ones to not only see themselves, but to tell you how they see their family members on the pages too.
Moms and Dads of multi-ethnic children will want to thank Arnold Adoff for his no-drama approach to everyday life...and all the special little things our families get to share as we venture into raising kids and growing up like we do!
Moms and Dads whose children are not bi-racial or bi-cultural will find support in teaching acceptance to their little ones while not making this topic seem so "clinical."
So, while you may be tugging on wet hair of wiggly little girls or shooing your babies up to bed...take time, share this poem, and enjoy ...there's nothing more special than seeing confident little eyes smiling as they look into the bright shiny mirror that this and all of Arnold Adoff's work offers every one of us!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Ray on October 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was 17 before I read this book, when a 4yo in the preschool I volunteered at handed it to me. I fell in love with this book immediately! It is so beautifully written. As a bi-racial child, I had seldom seen images of bi-racial families growing up, much less one so like my family (my father is white, my mother is black)! Even at 17 it felt good to have such a beautiful story reflect my own heritage in such a positive light. I am now 22 and have finally bought myself a copy for my own bookshelf. I can't wait to share this with my own children someday.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By N. Ritterhoff on February 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book (Black is Brown is Tan) has been a favorite of my daughter since she was one year. There are very few children's books that stress the positive of being a member of a bi-racial family. Black is Brown Is Tan shows the harmony and love between parents, children, and other family members. We love the fact that the extended family (the tan-skinned Uncle, Grandma White and Granny Black) are prominent figures in this book. The book highlights the differences and similarities between the races. It is a great read for all families no matter what their ethnic background. It has become the main staple in my baby shower gift baskets.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on July 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
"black is brown is tan/is girl is boy/is nose is face/is all the colors/of the race // is dark is light/singing songs/in singing night/kiss big woman hug big man/black is brown is tan // this is the way it is for us this is the way we are" Originally published in 1973, Arnold Adoff's joyous, lyrical, story-poem is as fresh and relevant today, as is was almost thirty years ago. Meet this wonderful extended family, from Momma, a "brown sugar gown/a tasty tan and coffee pumpkin pie/with dark brown eyes and almond ears", and Dad, not white like milk or snow, but "with pinks and tiny tans...brown eyes big yellow ears", and their kids, the color of both races, to golden haired aunts, tan colored uncles, granny white and grandma black "kissing both your cheeks and hugging back..." Mr Adoff's simple, rhythmic text is filled with love and pride as it celebrates his interracial family, and is complemented by award winning illustrator, Emily McCully's warm and cheerful artwork. Together word and art paints an engaging portrait of a strong, happy, loving family. Perfect for youngsters from 3 to 93, Black Is Brown Is Tan is a timeless classic, best read aloud and shared, that honors all families and the things that make them special.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when the librarian at my elementary school in Worthington, Ohio had the insight to order it! I was the first student to check it out. I was in Fifth Grade at the time. I have to say that at the time, I had a friend that was black (like coffee in the pot) and I am white (with pinks and brown freckles). She lived with an all white family as a foster child. My family had real issues that the two of us were friends. Reading this book helped make things easier for me. 16 years ago, I bought this book for my bi-racial daughter, Samantha. She loved it. Now, all three of my children and many of our neighbors' children have borrowed it, read it, and live it. I can't think of any better way to breach the subject of race and to explain our differences and most importantly, our similarities. Black is Brown is Tan... for 30 years this book has helped me and my family!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By KSL on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a proud parent of a child who was born in my heart it is important that my daughter know that families come about in all different ways and that beauty is not just skin deep but also comes from the inside. This book celebrates how beautiful our families are and is done so in a very poetic way! Cheers to both the author and illistrator! I can't wait to purchase more copies of this book for my daughter's future elementary school!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Loving Circle - Interracial WMBW on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Most remarkable about this book are the watercolor illustrations and depictions of just a regular happy home life with sing-song text. The book depicts a happy family with 2 happy young children. The mother is black, the father white. The parents each explain some racial differences to their kids as readers see them interact at home, with each parent and as a family. When the in-laws visit, they interact positively with the family as one family. In the extended family, there's "granny white and grandma black".

"Black is Brown is Tan" was definitely ahead of its time when published in '73. As testament to the mass appeal of this book to people interested in multiracial/biracial families, the book was reprinted in 2002. There still remains a desert of need for more books that speak to interracial couples and families who are searching for books that positively portray their lifestyle(s). Particularly for couples who are in stable relationships and no longer in the dating scene, it's great to see books about progressive relationships that parallel strides with peers in same-race relationships and marriages, interacting with family and raising children.

"Black is Tan" would be a book to add to your own book collection, as well as a wonderful gift for a baby shower, a wedding for interracial couples; a child's birthday present, or a present just because someone's special and needs to know how wonderful.

Near the end of the book, the extended family sing on the porch together --parents, kids, grandmothers, a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, with the ever-present family dog on hand.

At the end of the book, the happy parents hug each kid.
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