Board Book Review: Pretty Brown Face

Our 44th board book has a wonderful message for brown-skinned toddlers.

Pretty Brown Face by Andrea and Brian Pinkney.
Red Wagon Books, Harcourt, 1997.
Board book, 16 pages.

A young child discovers the wonders of fir own face.

Pretty Brown Face cover resized

This simple but well made book is sure to appeal to a wide variety of families and childcare professionals.  There are only two characters – a small child encountering a mirror and a male caregiver (presumably father, but never named as such).  At first I assumed the child was male, but no pronouns or male references are used, so this book could work nicely for a child of either gender.

Pretty Brown Face is part of a series of 4 sometimes referred to as the Family Celebration Board Books.  Although they aren’t specifically marketed as appealing to the senses, they would work great with a multisensory unit.  This book deals with sight as baby looks in the mirror, although there is some touch as hair, chin, and more are discovered.

I Smell Honey deals with taste and smell as a female caregiver whisks a different child around the kitchen.  Watch Me Dance is all about movement, and Shake, Shake, Shake deals with the shekere, an African percussion instrument.

Pretty Brown Face p5-6 resized
Pretty Brown Face pages 5 and 6.

As we have been reviewing various board books, I’ve noticed that my favorites tend to fall into two categories.  There are storybooks, which are just like a picture book only smaller and more durable.  Or there are specifically board books, which often are somewhat interactive.

This title falls neatly into the second category.  Much like Whose Knees are These? and some of our other favorites, Pretty Brown Face calls out for parent-child interaction with lines like “Look at that hair, curly and soft” or “Look at those lips, making a kiss.”

But my favorite part is at the end of the book, where a mirror is incorporated into the book and it ends “That face in the mirror belongs to me!”  Honestly, I debated even mentioning it in my review, because the final page was such a fun surprise.  But the mirror ending is a big selling point.

Pretty Brown Face p15-16 resized
Pretty Brown Face pages 15 and 16.

The illustrations are clean and simple, but there is still some interest in Pinkney’s signature scratchboard style lines as well as the subtle coloration.  The publisher recommends this for ages 6 months to 3 years, and I think that’s spot on.  This book is not likely to appeal to older children, but it’s perfect for the baby and toddler years.

Although this simple picture book is over 20 years old and seems to be out of print, it’s well worth trying to find.  We loved the positive, empowering message and interactive, educational aspects.  Highly recommended.


Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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