I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

I Am Every Good Thing cover image

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (9780525518778)

From the team that created Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut comes a new picture book that speaks in the voice of a Black boy about who he is. He is a leader, thanks to his endless energy. He is every good thing in the world, good to his core, “like the center of a cinnamon roll.” He is skinned knees and getting back up again. He is a scientist exploring his world. He is polite and ready to learn. He is wildly creative, exploring and absorbing information. He is laughter and smiles, the perfect beat and rhyme. He is an athlete, a brother, a son, and much more. He is hugs, support and love. He is not what people call him, but what he knows himself to be inside, sometimes a superhero, and always worthy of love.

This is a book all about empowerment, of seeing your own identity and holding it clear against what society may say about you. It’s a book that all children need, but Black boys most of all, as they are targeted and threatened by the world they live in. It is a book that insists and demands that Black children are every sort of wonderful thing, all wrapped into one person. The text is a poem, playing out across the pages, reminding and telling readers that they are valued and important.

The art by James is gorgeous, centering on the main protagonist in the story, but also showing many other Black boys on the pages with different skin tones, hair and emotions. There are several breathtaking pages, including the final smile on the last page that will stick with readers as he looks right into your eyes.

Another amazing picture book from this team. This book belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Nancy Paulsen Books.

Review: Of Course They Do! by Marie-Sabine Roger

of course they do

Of Course They Do!: Boys and Girls Can Do Anything by Marie-Sabine Roger and Anne Sol

This very simple book filled with crisp photographs takes on gender stereotypes and proves them quickly wrong.  The book starts with things that boys don’t do, like “Boys don’t cook.”  Turn the page and the counter to the stereotype is given with a photograph of a chef and the words “Are you sure?”  The book then moves on to stereotypes about girls, like them not playing sports. 

The format is engaging and fresh.  Having the more traditional gender role on one page and then the correction on next works particularly well, since it gives children a chance to realize that they themselves may think some of these things.  I also like that the format asks questions on the pages where the stereotype is being disputed.  This too lets children have the ability to change their mind rather than be defensive about what they had been thinking. 

The illustrations are all photographs and are bright and clear.  Many of them are close ups of faces that prove the point that girls and boys can do so many things.  Throughout the book there is clear diversity as well.

Clear and intelligently designed, this book will be welcome for units about gender.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.