Children's book celebrates the science behind skin colour
One of South Africa's literary stalwarts, Sindiwe Magona, has teamed up with well-renowned American anthropologist, Nina G. Jablonski, to create Skin we are in, a much-needed book about race and skin colour - for children.
Together with award-winning illustrator Lynn Fellman, the trio have researched, written and produced a lively and colourful book to educate children on the science behind skin colour.
The essence of the story lies in the knowledge that despite appearances, on the inside we are all the same. When asked why she embarked on the project Jablonski cites the need for "accessible, authoritative scientific education" in the country and says that Magona was the only person to help fulfill her vision. "More than anything I wanted the book to be believable for kids. It had to be written in their voices, for their experiences," says Jablonski. Skin we are in is a celebration of the glorious human rainbow, both in South Africa and beyond.
Magona has written the story of five young friends as they explore and discuss the skin they are in. The scientific narrative, written by Jablonski, expands and supports the conversation topics generated by the children's adventure, as eye-catching illustrations and informative graphics, drawn by Fellman, keep young readers intrigued and entertained.
Sindiwe Magona has written over 120 children's books in her lifetime and was awarded the Order of Okhamanga in 2011. She is currently a Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Western Cape as she continues her work as a writer, editor, translator and mentor to many of South Africa's best emerging writers.
Nina G. Jablonski is an anthropologist, paleontologist, and science educator. She studies and writes about human and primate evolution, and is especially interested in how skin and skin colour have evolved and influenced human life and societies. She conducts research and lectures in many countries, including South Africa, where she is a Permanent Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).
Lynn Fellman is a multimedia artist and science communicator. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a Fulbright Senior Scholar who studies, draws, paints, and lectures about the wonder and beauty of biological science. Her work shows the many layers of connections between people alive today and their ancient ancestors.
"The book is a testament to the inspiration, vision, and conviction of dozens of people, who created, edited, reviewed, and promoted it because they knew that the children of South Africa and the world needed it," says Jablonski.
Skin we are in is published by David Philip Publishers, an imprint of New Africa Books. The book is currently available in five languages: English, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, Afrikaans, and Sepedi. Skin we are in is available for purchase nationwide at all major bookstores and online at both Takealot and Loot.