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Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o Picture Book Review


Lupita Nyong’o announced her first book, “Sulwe,” in April and the excitement around it is buzzing. As someone who once struggled to accept and appreciate her dark skin, it is an important message that Nyong’o can share from firsthand experience.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.


As a parent, I have had the difficult conversations concerning diversity and privilege with my little ones. Questions such as why there are fewer black characters in books, movies and many forms of art. Why do African characters feature in negative roles in films etc. This book is among the many attempts by African authors and especially, our very own to put their weight on authentic African narratives. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty and to encourage other kids (and adults) to do the same.
The excitement in about this book is the fact that Lupita is proclaiming its release from the hub that boasts of influence, and thought leadership. Expectedly, many influential people would easily have written their own biographies or some “how to” manual but not Lupita. She has taken our heritage and her legacy to a whole new level.

For the longest while – and people so easily forget this –Africans did not have access to real African children influenced books or libraries. We had some books in the schools, but they were so obviously inferior that people stayed away.

It is becoming readily accepted that Africans do not read books. They read newspapers and magazines – more than two-thirds of regularly read print media – but they are not so-called committed readers: Lupita does bring diversity to children’s books, but also fashionably instill a reading culture at a young age. We, as Africans must start influencing this culture at a young age. Literacy is the cornerstone of development politically, socially and economically,

To add to the Black Girl Magic, “Sulwe,” which means Star, comes to life through images illustrated by New York Times best-seller Vashti Harrison.

About The Book

From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about self-esteem, colorism, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

I think it is a book worth our time and more of such should be coming our way. A wonderful book for a bedtime story.

“Sulwe” releases October 1st and is available for pre-order here.




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