Title: Sulwe 

Author: Lupita Nyong’o Illustrator: Vashti Harrison

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Number of pages: 48

Type of Book: Fiction; African, Magical Realism, Folktale 

Age: 4 – 8

Buy it here

Price: N4000; $11.78


Little Sulwe’s skin is as dark as midnight. She is the darkest member of her family and the darkest child in school. This makes her very sad. Slew desperately wants to be bright and beautiful like her sister Mich, whose skin is the colour of high noon. She wants to be light-skinned so she’ll be loved and accepted and make new friends.

So, Sulwe tries to lighten her skin. She eats bright foods, tries to rub her skin off, and even applies her mum’s makeup but nothing works. Poor Sulwe stays sad until one night, she goes on a magical journey that shows her that she’s beautiful, just the way she is. 


UP:The art. I am a lover of Vashti Harrison’s art and as usual, she outdid herself. She brought Sulwe to life with vibrant illustrations. 

I love the story-within-a-story structure. The folktale within the story adds a magical element to the story and makes it even more entertaining.

I like that there are so many teaching opportunities in this story. My kids and I had a whole discussion about the way God answers prayers; because they wanted to know why God didn’t answer Sulwe’s prayer.  

I love the premise of the story. In Lupita’s words, “Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children.” I love that Sulwe’s story deals with the universal human need to be loved and accepted while staying true to one’s self in a very child-friendly manner. 

It’s a heartwarming story, it builds confidence and it’s quite entertaining. I loved every bit of it, my boys loved it too. We’ve read it countless times and we highly recommend it. 

DOWN: None.


* * * * *


  1. Sulwe is Academy Award-Winning Actress, Lupita Nyongo’s, debut children’s book. 
  2. Like Sulwe, Lupita was teased and taunted in school because of her dark skin. 


  1. Read an excerpt here:  (Click on the look inside feature on the amazon website)
  2. Download some fun exercises here:



Read the excerpt and answer the questions below:

  1. List 4 things Sulwe did to become light-skinned (4 – 6 year olds)
  2. Write a 100-word essay. Topic: What does real beauty mean to you? (7 – 8 year olds)


3. Sulwe wants to be light-skinned, so that she can make friends like her light-skinned sister. If Sulwe were your sister, what advice would you give her? (7 – 8 year olds)

Send your answers to

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 4 – 8 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 12:00am on Sunday, October 4th2020.

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