Brown Like Me

reviewed by Paij Wadley-Bailey, MA, M.Ed.

Brown Like Me

written by Noelle Lamperti
New Victoria Publishers, Norwich, Vermont, 1999.

Brown Like Me is a book that will be enjoyed by all children between the ages of two and eight, but I recommend it highly for children of color adopted into transracial families or growing up in areas where the majority of others are white.

About a month after I moved to Central Vermont during the fall of 1975 to attend Goddard College in Plainfield, I began to have sleepless nights because of something gnawing at me – a gnawing I was unable to identify for quite a long time. Despite Vermont’s beautiful ecology, the aesthetics of the college campus, my pleasant neighbors and creative classmates, and my large group of lesbian friends – there was an unpleasant feeling deep inside of me.

Two months later, I sat straight up in bed. That’s it, African Americans: There were no other African-Americans anywhere!

For three months I had not had a “hit” of home: my siblings and father in Connecticut, familiar foods, our own way of being, my culture and faces, brown faces! That’s it! I could not see myself reflected back! I had failed for three months to acknowledge the resultant manifestations: denial and attempts at assimilation.

A week or so after “the light bulb turned on”, I was introduced to Noelle’s Brown Book, renamed Brown Like Me, in 1999.

“When Noelle Lamperti was five years old she started identifying things that were brown, like her. Adopted into a white family and living in rural Vermont, she soon discovered that she didn’t look like everyone else. So, it became important for her sense of identity that she find herself reflected in people and things that were brown.” —Press Release by New Victoria Publishers.

Brown Like Me has photographs of Noelle and something brown like her on all 32 pages. For example, her friend’s cool brown boots, a shaggy brown horse, yummy brown chocolate, two friendly brown goats; even her dog, Taco, has brown spots! There is also a photo of Noelle buried in a hill of brown leaves, making her almost invisible because of the beautiful monochromatic blends of brown. Talk about protective coloration!

Now, about twenty years after the first version, despite the growing numbers of minority adoptions, there are very few books addressing this issue. This book is important for ALL children-of-color growing up (as Noelle did) in an environment that doesn’t look like them. It is also important to get this book into libraries and schools.

By the way, Noelle’s mom, Claudia Lamperti, started one of the first lesbian presses in the nation – New Victoria Press – a feminist literary and cultural organization founded in Vermont in 1976.

It seems that cross-racial adoptions are occurring more often – not just with African-American children but with those from India, Central America, Asia and many other parts of the world as well. This trend is especially evident in lesbian and gay adoptions. And, it is important that these children grow up with a positive self-image.

Upon finding lots of beautiful things, Noelle raises her arms, flexes her muscles and says, “I am strong brown!”

To purchase this book, please visit:

Get it at Powell’s Books

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