Talking about racism with children is hard. For many teachers, parents and mentors, finding a good way to tell a child of color that the world might see them differently because of the color of their skin feels impossible. But it’s still necessary. Fortunately, many children’s book authors continue to find new ways to start that conversation. Public relations professional and children’s book author Abesi Manyando‘s new book, Jarvais Po: The Secret Adventures of a Potato, presents a unique way of having these talks.
The story follows Jarvais Po, a personified potato attending a school with other vegetables and fruits. Throughout the story, Jarvais is denigrated for being “just a potato.” His classmates make fun of the spots on his “skin.” His teachers instruct the other students that the history of the potato is not unique. However, after a trip to a museum, Jarvais discovers that his culture embodies an incredible history and background as potatoes that makes Jarvais special.
The book functions as an allegory, cleverly explaining the realities of discrimination. The illustrations are vivid, and each vegetable is beautifully drawn with characteristics of various cultures and racial backgrounds. The author’s creativity in injecting the book with representation and culture through food is an incredible feat making it a perfect book to buy for kids.