In today’s digital world, children, like adults, are more often than not tethered to an electronic device. Even small children spend hours engaged on screens exploring learning games and apps. With access to a wide variety of digital content for the young ones, it would seem that there is little need for new picture books for children.
That assumption is proven wrong by a brand new addition to children’s literature, Little Professor Skye – Favorite Things written by Munson Steed and illustrated by Kareem Kenyada. This inaugural story is the first of a series about a little girl named Skye who is also known as Little Professor Sky because of her natural curiosity, keen observations and obvious intellect. Her father is an inventor who creates a special companion for his daughter—a dinosaur robot. Skye and her robot, Cutie Pie, go through the day exploring and having fun as Little Professor Skye’s shares her favorite things. On her list are necessary skills like hygiene and grooming, costuming (dressing) from her magic closet, and exploring on her bicycle. She likes to read and write, imagine and create. She finds fun in math and science and, like her father, enjoys inventing things.
Although many books try but don’t quite succeed, Little Professor Skye – Favorite Things captures the optimism of children at that special moment without barriers to what they can be or do in the world. The author clearly understands the way children think—their active minds with laser like focus on the play at hand but moving from one subject to another as they develop stories and adventures to accompany new interests or discoveries.
The book has gorgeous illustrations that have an almost 3D quality to them that gives an impression of extending off the page. The colors are vivid and contemporary with slightly distorted proportions that are just odd enough to make children want to look.
But what really makes this book especially compelling is a rare presentation of a brilliant, beautiful black girl protagonist at the center of a world of possibilities. In today’s society where the focus of so much public discourse is on the deep divisions in society, Little Professor Skye – Favorite Things is a cool series about a black girl who imagines a future where she can and will accomplish what she chooses. It is a book for readers—parents and children—who understand that a child’s humanity is expressed in the many ways they affirm who they are and can be.
-A review by Michael Simanga