Race relations receive a great deal of attention today, especially when the discussion includes children. It seems that placing mufflers on dialogue about where we are, how we got here and what we can do to live together is stupid at best and dangerous at worst.

To most adults, this is a ludicrous, sickening wedge used by opportunists to further whatever agenda fits the campaigner. To children, well, it doesn’t register. Just as the best art is in children’s books, the best lessons on racial harmony are there as well.

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Harriet’s Yellow Jacket

Written by Analise Harris Illustrated by Adri Norris

When Harriet tries on her raincoat hood, it won’t fit. Her hair is too big! Disappointed, she pouts in her room until her mother comes to her rescue. Having large hair that requires additional attention is not something all kids have to deal with and while sounding trivial, it opens the door to discuss other things that are not obvious but important to know when it comes to living with our fellow human beings.

The illustrations are in vibrant watercolor and full of energy and emotion. A compelling visual.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Childs Story about Racial Injustice

Written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard, Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

A white police officer shoots an innocent black man. Something Happened in Our Town was published in 2018. By this time, extrajudicial killings by law enforcement had reached public consciousness and awareness but not yet nationally focused. That would finally arrive with the murder of George Floyd.

This book would likely be considered “woke” by social conservatives and has in fact been challenged many times because of the standard perception of bias in the portrayal of white people and police officers and that we somehow cannot table these viewpoints and talk them through. One wonders how we see the future. I guess things will just work out if we ignore them.

And do people who purport to support police unconditionally really think through a scenario where police officers become the unchallenged judge and jury on the street? It may seem to be an agreeable solution for some, but where is the line drawn? Are you certain that unchecked enforcement would never threaten you or a loved one?

The illustrations are digitally rendered and while I prefer hand crafted art, these are well constructed and emotionally expressive. In particular, I liked the pages where the images of people discussed are in the background and silhouetted against a sky or continents. Very striking contrasts.