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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Melanin Gang: An ABC Affirmation Book, written by Myesha and Mohammed Shuaibe, and illustrated by Ana Latese, is a children's alphabetical picture book that harnesses the power of a child's gifts. Each page includes a collection of letters from the alphabet and matches it with an empowering word, phrase, and depiction. From the Amazing day promised of A and the boundless Imagination of I, to Respect for yourself and others with R and W for the Worth of love, peace, and joy, this A-XYZ guide covers a healthy range for kids. The depictions are sketched in full color and encapsulate black children proactively engaged in the letter's phrased message. Examples of this include a boy and a girl on a tire swing portraying the H for Happiness that they are creating for themselves, and a girl looking at her reflection in a mirror as she embodies Love and acceptance for herself with L.
Melanin Gang is a wonderful compilation for children of color to see and learn in a book that represents them entirely. As a man of color with daughters of color, I know how slim the pickings are for books that have more than just a token black child or a mix of racially ambiguous kids between their covers. Myesha and Mohammed Shuaibe have done beautiful work in collaborating to give us a tool that delivers the strength of words connected to letters in a double-whammy of character building and education. The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. Ana Latese has a wonderful talent in the artistry that pours from the pages of this book, so much so that little fingers traced and lingered on illustrations long after the letter and lines were read. Combined, the Shuaibes and Latese have crafted one of the best picture books of alphabetizing currently available and I have no doubt it will be loved by children and adults alike. Very highly recommended.