Black is beautiful, uh-huh! Long ago, Blackbird was voted the most beautiful bird in the forest. The other birds, who were colored red, yellow, blue, and green, were so envious that they begged Blackbird to paint their feathers with a touch of black so they could be beautiful too. Although Black-bird warns them that true beauty comes from within, the other birds persist and soon each is given a ring of black around their neck or a dot of black on their wings -- markings that detail birds to this very day. Coretta Scott King Award-winner Ashley Bryan's adaptation of a tale from the Ila-speaking people of Zambia reso-nates both with rhythm and the tale's universal meanings -- appreciating one's heritage and discovering the beauty within. His cut-paper artwork is a joy.
In a story of the Ila people, the colorful birds of Africa ask Blackbird, whom they think is the most beautiful of birds, to decorate them with some of his "blackening brew".