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🟢 Kid Lit Book Review: Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite W. Davol

Black, White, Just Right! written by Marguerite W. Davol,

Illustrated by Irene Trivas

A Review by Madisyn Myers

“All day long, Violet’s stomach lurched. What if Violet couldn’t give her valentine? What if Mira didn’t want her valentine? What if … they never adventured?”

When two people come together to create a family, they incorporate their similarities and differences within the household. These similarities and differences make the household more exciting and inclusive, giving a deep sense of who they are. Black, White, Just Right, written by Marguerite Davol and illustrated by Irene Trivas, tells the story of an interracial couple and their young daughter. The primary focus is the uniqueness of interracial marriages and how they expand into something even more wonderful when welcoming children into the picture. The story shows the many differences between the young girl's mother and father and how she has been granted the gift of sharing a mixture of traits from them, whether it be her hair, tan skin, or taste in food. The young girl goes through her life with her mother and father, and while she recognizes their differences, she also sees the importance of accepting herself and understanding that she, just like her parents, is "just right". 

This story may seem like a simple story told of a young girl and her parents; however, there is a deep significance rooted within it. Black, White, Just Right, tells the story of a young girl growing up in a biracial family and developing a mindset of accepting herself fully. A beneficial focus point within this story is that she is able to see differences in her parents and cultures as amazing reasons why she is the way she is. Acceptance is a major key within this story as it reflects on how diversity positively impacts families and welcomes them to discover things they wouldn't have otherwise explored. From enjoying modern art to going through museums of African masks, a wide range of activities are shown throughout the book, which displays how differences widen our horizons. The family makes a change in a way by revealing how their differences bring them together and make their biracial family just right. 

Throughout history, negative opinions have been placed on interracial relationships and biracial families. However, this book shows the beauty in them and how being mixed with two cultures can allow a child to see from various perspectives. While told through the eyes of a young mixed girl, this fictional story was written by Davol, a white woman who wrote this book with her mixed grandchildren in mind. In the back of the book, Davol dedicates this story to her grandchildren and includes a photo of her with them. Within Davol’s writing career she had written a variety of books, many of which are inclusive and dive further into teaching children more about diversity and identity. With such knowledge and experience in writing about crucial factors within our society, this book continually proves it was written by someone who has a background and awareness of the topic, making it more compelling for the audience to read. While the story being told is fictional and written through the lens of a white woman, it is through her experience with her family, more specifically her grandchildren, that she understood the importance of creating a book that caters to a mixed person's identity.

This book is beautifully written in a way that allows people to see and understand mixed persons' experiences, especially with their parents. The book is affirming, honest, age-appropriate, and read-me-again interesting, which is vital when telling such essential lessons to readers. While I would give this book a green light for others to read, there is one element that could create some hesitation from readers. Such hesitancy could arise from the fact that Davol is a white woman telling a story from a young mixed girl's point of view. While she dedicates this book to her grandchildren, that still does not mean she knows the mixed person's full experience because, as a witness, one can never truly fully understand it. However, this aspect should not deter potential readers from giving this book a chance, as it reveals a special message throughout its story. While telling the story of a character whose race differs from the author can be tricky whether they are fictional or not, as long as it truly gets the audience to understand what they are reading about in a deeper way, there's no reason why this book could not help others understand and further expand their awareness of the mixed person's lifestyle and experience. Through Davol’s previous books and experience with writing about various cultures, she has proven to be an ally when teaching children lessons through her books, and Black, White, Just Right, is another one that can be added to that list. 



Madisyn Myers was a student review writer working with Reading Is Resistance at Portland State University in partnership with Teaching for Change's Social Justice Books (SJB) Project.



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