Here’s the thing: I love babies. Especially brown ones. Truly, they make me swoon; everything about them is rainbows and juicy juice and bubbling brown sugar sweet sweet, and it makes my heart beat fast to hear them giggle and play and talk and hug and just… be. They are everything good. Everything right. They are light.

It is this sentiment that pulled at my heartstrings when I first read the manuscript for Markette Sheppard’s What is Light? a beautiful book that explores the many ways light finds its way into a child’s everyday world: through the bright tail of a firefly, in the twinkle of a shiny star, all up in the colors of a butterfly’s fluttering wings—a mother’s tender hug. Dig deeper and there’s an unbridled celebration of the joy, spirit, and light children see in their own reflection.

And when I got to the final page? Let’s just say it’s a fitting finale for this sweet tale.

I just had to have What is Light? for Denene Millner Books, because it celebrates brown babies in a way that is all-at-once delicious and rare for the pages of children’s tomes. What’s even more rare? It’s a board book, y’all. Featuring brown babies. Written by an African American woman. Illustrated by fine artist Cathy Ann Johnson, also African American. And published by an African American woman—me!—who is absolutely obsessed with bringing quality stories celebrating the everyday lives, beauty and wonder of African American children. 

Board books featuring black babies, written and illustrated by black humans, published by black folk, celebrating the beauty of black children? My God, y’all: this is a unicorn.

Support Markette. Support Cathy Ann. Support Denene Millner Books. Support brown babies. Cop What is Light wherever books are sold and put copies of this unicorn on your home bookshelf, in your child’s classroom, at your church, in your school and local library, and anywhere else they can get into a child’s hands.

Want a signed copy? Markette, an Emmy Award-nominated news broadcaster in Washington, D.C., will be launching What is Light? at Busboys and Poets Brookland on June 24 at 5 p.m. This free, all-ages launch party will feature guest appearances by children’s performer 123 Andrés, winner of the 2016 Latin Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album, and an interactive musical experience for children by renowned drummer and percussionist Devin Walker of The Uncle Devin Show, plus special remarks from DC’s Rep in Congress, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton.

You can RSVP here if interested in attending the party:

Meanwhile, buy copies of What is Light? at:


Barnes and Noble:


Happy Book Birthday to What is Light and Markette—love the Denene Millner Books and MyBrownBaby crew.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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