Just when I thought Lupita Nyong’o couldn’t get any more lovable, she revealed the beautiful cover of her upcoming children’s book (illustrated by Vashti Harrison) on Monday, April 1st. First announced in January, “Sulwe” (which means “star” in her native language, Luo) is a picture book that tackles the issue of colorism by delivering messages of self-acceptance and self-love. The plot is as follows, as described on Goodreads: “Sulwe” is “the story of a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya. In the book, Sulwe has the darkest skin color in her family, a fact that makes her uncomfortable and determined to find a way to lighten her skin. As the story unfolds Sulwe embarks on a whimsical adventure in the night sky that, coupled with advice from her mother, helps her see beauty differently.”
Lupita has long since been vocal about her struggles with self-hate and the impact it has had on her. During her memorable speech at the 2014 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards, she shares a story of a fan who decided against lightening her skin after seeing Lupita on screen. She goes on to talk about her own experience with colorism, and how seeing South Sudanese model, Alek Wek, changed her self-perception. Lupita’s speech highlights the importance of representation in the media, and “Sulwe” serves as a source of that representation for children.
The significance of this book being targeted towards children cannot be overstated. Our childhood is the critical period during which we form beliefs and attitudes that shape who we become as adults. As Lupita so aptly puts it, it’s that time when “ you learn all the things that you spend the rest of your life trying to unlearn.” She hopes to plant the seeds of self-love early on and help children “reimagine what it means to be beautiful.”
“Sulwe” is set to be released on October 1st, 2019 and is available for pre-order now.