All your friends are different.
Have you noticed? The one who sits next to you in school has brown eyes, while your neighbor’s eyes are blue. One friend might be very tall, while the other might be very short. Their hair and their skin might be lighter, darker or another color altogether. Your friends are all ages and sizes and there are boys and girls.
They are different and you love them all.
And in the new book "Chocolate Me!" by Taye Diggs, illustrated by his friend, Shane W. Evans, a little boy learns to love himself, too.
Timmy and Johnny and Mark have everyday names, just like everybody else — except the little boy on the step. His name was unique, and he longed for a common name.
Mark and Timmy and Johnny had different skin, too, and they wondered if the little boy’s dark skin hurt when he washed off the dirt. Why was his skin darker, anyhow?
Johnny and Mark and Timmy sometimes teased the little boy about his hair. It was curly and poufy, like a wig. Didn’t it tangle and hurt to brush it?
And then there was the little boy’s nose. It was HUGE! It was nothing like Timmy’s nose. The little boy’s hair was not like Mark’s hair. His skin didn’t look like Johnny’s skin. And his super-white teeth weren’t like anybody’s!
It made him sad. It made him cry.
But when he told his mother why he was so sad, she said something important: his skin wasn’t just dark, it was like "velvet fudge frosting mixed in a bowl."
His hair was like cotton candy or rows of tall corn. And just seeing his white-white teeth made her smile, too.
She showed the little boy a mirror. For real, he was just perfect.
Suddenly, Johnny and Timmy and Mark didn’t seem so special. They were his friends, that’s true, but they were missing something that was too sweet not to notice
Wanting to be like everybody else is a big thing when you’re a little person. But then again, so is self-acceptance and "Chocolate Me!" can help.
With a charming, not-quite-rhyming story, author and actor Diggs — who used his own childhood as the basis for this book — tells the tale of a boy who isn’t at all like his friends, and hates it.
Anybody who’s stood out from the crowd can identify with the child in this story, but kids who are keenly aware of differences will find it even more personal. I liked the good-naturedness of Diggs’ main character, despite that he’s heartbroken for being singled out. For her wisdom, I liked his mother even more.
Add Evans’ illustrations — pictures kids will want to look at again and again and again — and you’ve got a winner of a book.
Meant for preschoolers, I think this book is also good for both bully and bullied because it could change their lives. For them, and for any child who’s different, "Chocolate Me!" is yummy.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s children’s book reviews weekly.