The Ace Compeers

The Secrets of Skin Colour

Children - Educational
76 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2022
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Author Biography

From a young age, Rita Bhandari's French Canadian and South Asian background fostered in her a deep curiosity about race. Her biracial identity and lived experiences have fueled her curiosity about the science and history of race and inspired her to become an educator and advocate for equity and inclusion. Rita has been teaching for ten years and earned three certificates from the Equity Literacy Institute and a professional Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. Rita lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and three-year-old toddler.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

The Ace Compeers: The Secrets of Skin Colour, written by Rita Bhandari and illustrated by Indra Audipriatna, is a mid-grade children's book that takes a scientific approach to explaining the genetic differences in skin color with the aim to advance anti-racism. The book begins with a group of kids around a board to learn about differences in physical characteristics. The usual differences are pointed out with regard to eyes, hair, skin color, etc. The book then transitions into a breakdown of the role genetics play, moving into part two with an overview of topics such as the evolution of melanin as a response to elemental and environmental factors, and concludes with discussion prompts at the end.

As a parent of a child of color, I picked up The Ace Compeers out of curiosity. In my family, science is practically a religion and so the prospect of a scientific anti-racism angle in a book sounded pretty darn good. Overall, the writing style is straightforward and clean, albeit a bit loquacious, and the information presented is easily absorbed if the adult reading along is patient. I would definitely recommend an independent read first, particularly as some of the references may not be familiar. An example of this is when a character named Ang requests the food 'roti' a couple of times; only one of the twelve children I read this to knew what it was. The real star of Rita Bhandari's book is the phenomenal illustrations by Indra Audipriatna, a powerhouse of talent that breathes life into the book and elevates it through a mixed palette of vibrant colors and wonderfully unique imagery. It was the artwork that resonated most with the children and, combined with the storyline, made for a nice piece of educational kid-lit. Recommended.