MUSICAL CHEERS: True to form, Jana Bent returns with The Reggae Band Rescues Mama Edda Leatherback, the second entry in her emotionally resonant series of children stories. As with the first, Shaggy Parrot and the Reggae Band, the kid-friendly work boasts not only vibrant images and a delightfully entertaining story, but a listening component that features musical contribution from Shaggy, who plays a significant deejay role on the disc that accompanies the book. Cindy Breakspeare voices the role of the turtle, Mama Edda. Bent, who has roots in music herself, delivers a gem sure to bring a grin to the face of every tot who picks up the book. The third in the Reggae Pickney book series, meanwhile, arrives next spring.
THE SKIN I’M IN: Experience, they say, is the finest tutor, and Taye Diggs may have taken this to heart. The beloved stage and screen actor, having tapped into his boyhood years, has produced his newly-released children’s book debut, Chocolate Me, which screams autobiography in its tale of a dark-skinned boy who is teased for looking different than the other kids on the playground. In a moment that somewhat recalls Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the boy tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else before she helps him see how beautiful he really is. Drawing on the emotionally exuberant vocabulary of street art and anime, Chocolate Me has been described as a “bighearted” story that features a young hero’s journey across a landscape of bruising taunts and emotional complexity.