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New kids projects from Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong'o, and Gabrielle Union

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Written by Fredia Lucas and Edited by Alana Anderson

March is all about celebrating women and the imaginative stories we’ve birthed into life. This month Fictional will feature female writers, voice actors, and animated characters that deserve a never-ending round of applause. You're in for a treat.

To kick us off, we’re magnifying projects that we can look forward to enjoying.

Lucky for us, our world is rich with incredible women writing and producing new fictional stories, and so many of these tales deserve our attention.

Netflix is working on a feature film for Lupita Nyong’o’s Best Selling Book Sulwe

Andre 3000 said it without saying it, “Across cultures, why do darker skin people suffer the most?”

Colorism, it’s a heavy topic, which means it is the perfect conversation to have with young children. The exact demographic who are most likely to be bullied for having dark skin, or most likely to do the bullying. As a child, I was both calling people African booty-scratchers while also being called an African booty-scratcher because of the darkness of my skin.

Written by Lupita Nyong'o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe is the story of a 5-year-old Kenyan girl of the same name who doesn’t understand or desire to have dark skin. Sulwe feels like an outcast as no one at her school or in her home has skin like hers, skin as dark as midnight.

Sulwe is teased and ridiculed for her darkness and begs God for lighter skin, and is heartbroken when her prayers go unanswered...or so she thinks. One evening, Sulwe is visited by a magical shooting star that whisks her away to teach her the true meaning and power of darkness.

Some of our parent readers may be familiar with Sulwe from the Netflix series, Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. Bookmarks is a live-action series that features children’s books written by Black authors that center Black stories. In the series, Lupita reads Sulwe in its entirety.

You can watch the entire segment above. It’s an excellent activity to do right before bedtime with the little ones.

Sulwe is also available for purchase at online and in-person book retailers.

Gabrielle Union-Wade & Dwayne Wade's New Children's Book, Shady Baby

What two-year-old has two celebrity parents, 1.6 million Instagram followers, and the personality and charisma that most adults would need to join a MasterClass to learn? Kaavia James Union-Wade.

The daughter of Gabrielle Union-Wade & Dwayne Wade, Kaavia James aka #shadybaby has captured hearts both domestically and internationally, so much so that her dedicated fans craved a piece of her in our own homes.

Shady Baby, illustrated by artist Tara Nicole Whitaker, is set to release on May 18th. The picture book, co-authored by Kaavia’s parents, will follow Shady Baby through a glamorous day that takes a turn when some bullies pull up to the playground.

Union-Wade & Wade shared this with People Magazine, "Inspired by our daughter, Kaavia James, we wanted to create a children's book that not only had a little Black girl as the main character but that also reflects the global community we live in. We hope to give the word 'shady' a more positive association and use it to represent one's moral compass to do the right thing and stand up for themselves and others," the duo continues, "It's important that little Black girls and boys get to see themselves in these fairy tales and for children of other races to see us in leadership roles."

As a Black woman, I’ve gotten my fair share of feedback that I was “spicy”, “a lot”, and “shady”. It’s powerful that the Wade family is taking the opportunity to reclaim a word often misused to describe Black women in an unflattering light and instead reframe the word with admirable personality traits like being self-assured, a team leader, and friend to all who play nice.

You can pre-order Shady Baby here.

Michelle Obama's New Kids Series Waffles & Mochi on Netflix

From the people who brought you Chef’s Table, Salt Fat Acid Heat, and Ugly Delicious, Netflix is proud to present Waffles & Mochi.

Debuting on March 16, Waffles & Mochi is the newest series from Higher Ground Productions the production company founded by former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. Previously, Higher Ground Productions has produced exceptional content like American Factory, which gives an insightful look into a Chinese company and Chinese immigrants revitalizing an abandoned factory in Ohio, and Becoming a documentary about Michelle Obama’s life during her book tour of the same name.

Waffles & Mochi will be Higher Grounds’ first release of an episodic series, and it’s for kids! The program aims to educate children on food curiosity and diversity and stylistically accomplishes this with a combination of puppets, claymation, and 2-D animation. The series has an international setting, as Waffles and Mochi travel from San Francisco to Seoul all while featuring notable chefs like José Andrés and Samin Nosrat, the host of Salt Fat Acid Heat.

The show also features other notable characters like Tan France, Zach Galifianakis, and Common. That's all well and good, but I think we all know who we will be watching for, our forever First Lady and murderer of the monochromatic burgundy pantsuit, Michelle Obama.

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