One interesting query was about picture books with non-white protaganists. We talked about books like Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch, but one that occurred to me was Edward and the Lucky Eureka Wish Company by Barbara Todd with illustrations by Patricia Storms. I found it interesting that Edward's race was in no way a factor in the story being told and that the choice made by the illustrator could well be an example of what in theatre or film would be called colour-blind casting.
I was curious enough that I fired off an email to Toronto illustrator Patricia Storms and got the following reply.
"That's interesting, your thoughts about Edward. I have wondered about it myself. You are the first person to bring up the subject, though. To date, no one who has seen the book has made any comment to me about the colour of the boy's skin. All I hear is that it looks like a fun book (phew!). I'm inclined to think that this is a good thing, because it means that so far, the question has not been asked (out loud, anyway) as to why wasn't the boy white instead of dark skinned."
And yes, Edward and the Eureka Lucky Wish Company is fun - check it out. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if anyone out there can think of other examples where the skin colour of the child in a picture book isn't directly related to the story being told but is just who they are.