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You Be Me, I'll Be You
By Phil Mandelbaum

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Review by Allison Martin

The children's picture book, You Be Me I'll Be You, is the story of a bi-racial family, in which the father plays a game with his little girl to reassure her about the difference in their skin colors. This book was originally published in Belgium with the title "Black Like Coffee, White Like the Moon."

The story begins when the litle girl Anna confesses to her father that she doesn't like it when people stare at her. She feels that she is "not pretty." Her father responds by playing around with colors to show how they mix - first with paint and then with coffee and milk. When Anna says she wishes to look like him, he covers his face with dark coffee grounds while she braids his hair to look like hers. He dusts her face with white flour and she places his hat on her head. They stroll off to meet her mother, who upon seeing them suggests they wash up. On the way home, her father points out a beauty palor and remarks on how everyone seems disastisfied with their appearance. In the end, Anna affirms to her mother that she is like a piece of moon that has fallen into a cup of coffee.

This is playful book, with cute illustrations, which addresses a difficult topic. While it would be more effective if it addressed Anna's deeper feelings about her appearance, You Be Me I'll Be You makes a good starting point for discussion with children about issues of race, appearance and different families.

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