Racial conflict has made a bitter comeback in the ’90s; that’s all the more reason to welcome the reissue of a bright classic from more optimistic 1973. In Black Is Brown Is Tan Arnold Adoff; illustrated by Emily McCully, the author celebrates an interracial family in lyrical verse: ”Black is brown is tan/is girl is boy/is nose is face/is all the colors/of the race.”
In an affectionate, teasing duet, each parent speaks in turn — the black mother who compares herself to a ”coffee pumpkin pie,” and then the white father, ”light with pinks.” At least in the bosom of this lively family, different skin color is just another aspect of cherished individuals.
Both the spirited play of Adoff’s language and McCully’s clear, humorous illustrations enhance this book’s enduring appeal. A