Read it: "What Color Is Caesar?"

By Maxine Kumin; illustrations by Alison Friend

Candlewick Press, $16.99

Ages: Kindergarten and early readers

W hat it's about: Caesar is a Dalmatian-like dog with a problem: He doesn't know if he is, basically, a black dog with white spots or a white dog with black spots. He becomes obsessed with knowing the answer and embarks on a quest in which he consults with other black-and-white creatures such as a cow, a pony and a zebra -- each of which tells him that their true colors have nothing to do with what they look like on the outside. A guru at a circus finally helps Caesar figure out his identity question.

Why read it: Lyrical and funny, this story by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin is a delight. It's a lighthearted approach to the often serious and dividing topic of skin color. While kids are learning a good lesson, they'll mostly be entertained by the lovable dog and other creatures, as well as Alison Friend's beautiful and whimsical illustrations.