DiscoverPicture Books

The Color of Play


Loved it! 😍

Sensitive and sweet, this story models ways humans can be kind to one another even when challenges arise.

Being the new kid at school can be challenging at the best of times, but having the support of loving family and friends can make the transition easier. Eight-year-old Jacob is adopted, a newly-welcomed member of a family in Chicago, Illinois. After a challenging childhood, Jacob is ready to make new friends in second grade, but not everyone is kind to him. Luckily, he meets a boy named Andrew who shares Jacob’s love of Xbox and superheroes, and the two become fast friends. When another student brings a toy gun to school one day and Jacob wants to play with it, he ends up learning more about Andrew and how complex the world can be.

Written for a second grade audience, this book tackles some heavy-hitting subject matter. Jacob, a boy with light skin, is adopted into a family with darker skin, and his best friend Andrew has dark skin, as well. When conflict arises between Andrew and Jacob over Jacob’s decision to play with a toy gun at school, Jacob’s adoptive parents have a sensitive and important conversation with him. Through patience and kindness, Jacob and Andrew repair their friendship and embrace the things that unite them while also celebrating their uniqueness.

Long paragraphs and detailed sentences are well-suited to the target age group. Specific colors of text correspond to people within the story, helping emerging readers to keep track of the character of focus. A worksheet at the beginning and an invitation at the end encourage deeper investigation of the story while revealing the reader’s own superpowers.

Colorful illustrations bring this story to life, featuring characters with a range of complexions. Though one image depicts the boys riding their bikes without helmets, the overall presentation supports messages of compassion and safety. People and the relationships between them are by far the focus of both the narrative and the illustrations. Splotches of color on the pages with text emphasize the concept of humanity as a vibrant and varied work in progress.

This powerful story engages young readers in the important conversation about racial tension in the United States and, through example, helps them to navigate similar situations in their own lives. Sensitive and sweet, this story models ways humans can be kind to one another even when challenges arise. Readers of all ages are sure to connect with this heartwarming tale.

Reviewed by

I review books for kids, tweens, and teens and blog about them on my website. To date, I have over 500 published reviews. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at to get recommendations straight to your inbox! I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews upon request.


Two second-graders share a special friendship and a superpower that they use together to make the world a better place—for all kids. A heartfelt new picture book combines delightful storytelling with an important message of diversity, acceptance, and friendship; a perfect offering in today’s landscape.

About the author

Nneka utilizes writing as an intellectual therapy and medicine. She uses her writing to advocate for change, empower, and acknowledge social issues in which many often silence. The Color of Play is the first in its quartet series. The idea of serving and advocating for children is dear to her heart. view profile

Published on March 31, 2021

2000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Picture Books

Reviewed by