Book Reviewed by AALBC Staff Writer
In an age where there is a proliferation of emotional and physical Black trauma, that is videotaped and viewed widely online, we should strive to be focused and intentional about empowering our children by sharing an abundance of Black joy. Although the harsh realities of life may be, at times, unavoidable, to protect their mental and emotional health, it’s vital to make sure our kids fully understand that trauma is not all Black life has, or has to offer. To counter the almost daily images of subjugation, we must affirm them with joyful experiences and uplifting examples that confirm their absolute right to a happy and carefree young life. As caretakers and advocates, we should explore, through every medium at our disposal, the ways we can do this. Different and the Same by twin sisters Adijah and Atiya Brabham is a wonderful tool to help us do just that.
In this vividly illustrated children’s picture book, identical twins Nia and Nori share all the ways they are exactly alike…and also completely different. While Nori likes to rock her hair in a high puff, and Nia prefers her fro to be full-out and fabulous, they both enjoy adorning their crowns with similar fashion accessories. Nia’s passion for designing block buildings and Nori’s zeal for the more technical aspects of construction suggest symbiotic STEM interests, through which the sisters could grow up to build beautiful skyscrapers together as architect and civil engineer. And while their idea of the perfect pet may differ, both are animal lovers through and through. Except for frogs, which is totally understandable.
In Nia and Nori, young readers are introduced to the concept of individuality in multiple birth siblings, even among those that appear to be identical in every way. It subtly plants the seed that we are more than what we look like on the outside, that our personhood is comprised of external and internal elements—including our likes, dislikes, talents, and aspirations—all of which serve to make us unique. The rhyming text and childish diction, though charming, come across at times, as a bit forced. However, the rich portrayal of the main characters and the affirming cultural imagery are what truly make Different and the Same an excellent addition for home and educational library collections curated for children. Little ones will certainly enjoy hearing it read aloud, and adults will appreciate the valuable and practical lessons they can use to help their kids explore their uniqueness and celebrate their sameness. The colorful illustrations are expressive, fun, and will captivate kids and adults alike. They will also inspire pre-readers to engage in creative storytelling of their own.
Different and the Same is a joyful empowering read that centers happy well-rounded African-American children, and showcases their special talents, budding intellectual interests, and unique experiences. It is the type of uplifting book that they, and perhaps we need, especially now. RECOMMENDED.