Review of Nesting Dolls

Nesting Dolls Nesting Dolls
by Vanessa Brantley-Newton; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Crown    40 pp.
10/23    9781984852373    $18.99
Library ed.  9781984852380    $21.99
e-book ed.  9781984852397    $10.99

Brantley-Newton highlights the bonds, both visible and invisible, that connect family members. Anyiaka’s older sister, Sorie, has light brown skin like their mom’s and grandma’s. Anyiaka’s darker skin causes her to wonder about her place in the family. “Everyone in my family is so beautiful and so smart. And then there’s me.” With the help of family portraits (mostly illustrated, with a couple of interspersed photographs) and a set of nesting dolls representing the women in their family, Grandma shows Anyiaka that her mahogany skin and thick hair come from her great-grandmother: “Our family has been workin’ to make oonuh for years and years.” In addition to Grandma’s dialect, digital drawings provide more context to the story, set among the Gullah Geechee of South Carolina’s Sea Islands. The bold-hued images depict a loving intergenerational family with deep roots. An author’s note discusses Brantley-Newton’s own Gullah Geechee roots and the group’s long history on the Sea Islands.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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