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I am every good thing
Book
2020
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Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* From the award-winning author-illustrator duo of Barnes and James (Crown, 2017), this is a powerful celebration of Black boyhood, countering many of the negative messages that a racist society puts forth about African American boys. Here they are adventurous, polite, inquisitive, playful, creative, artistic, athletic, brave, and worthy. They are also loving, vulnerable, and reliable. The text has a cadence that demands to be read out loud, performed, sung, or shouted with joy and veracity. James' illustrations provide vibrant visualizations of the words, rich in color and movement. Boys' brown faces radiate light, love, and the joyfulness of childhood so that readers can't help but smile along as they read, "I am good to the core, like the center of a cinnamon roll. Yeah, that good." Despite this being intended for young readers, it would do no harm if it found its way into teenage hands as well, especially those already wounded by some of the predominant views of Black masculinity. Can be paired with I Am Loved (2018), by Nikki Giovanni. The need for a book like this, at a moment like this, could not be greater. Preschool-Grade 3. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

With a refrain that reads "I am," the creators of the award–winning Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut craft an empowering ode to Black boy joy. In metaphor-driven verse, Barnes moves from the interpersonally specific ("I am that smile forming on your face") to the iconic ("I am a grand slam,/ bases fully loaded"), and from the naturalistic ("I am waves crashing gently on the shore") to the historical ("I am my ancestors' wildest dream"). Employing rich textures and jewel tones in his fine art style, James paints Black boys of varying skin tones and ages engaging in work and play, solo and in community: flying through the air in a cape, getting back up after a skateboard tumble, working with a microscope, and assisting a grandmother crossing the street. A line of uncertainty interrupts the litany, offering a somber moment: "Although I am something like a superhero,/ every now and then,/ I am afraid." But the text quickly moves on, speaking to Black boys' deservingness "of success,/ of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness." Together, James's energetic portraiture and Barnes's affirming text powerfully and ecstatically convey the idea that all Black boys are "worthy/ to be loved." Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Author Biography

Derrick Barnes wrote the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten, as well as the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (illustrated by Gordon James), which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, and the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. He also wrote the bestselling chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys. He owns the copy-writing company Say Word Creative Communications and created the popular blog Raising the Mighty, where he "chronicles the experience of bringing up four beautiful Black boys in America." He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and their four sons.

Gordon C. James illustrated the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (by Derrick Barnes), which received a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, an Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor, the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers, and a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. He also illustrated Let 'Er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People's Champion (by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson). He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and two children. - (Penguin Putnam)

Annotations

Illustrations and easy-to-read text pay homage to the strength, character, and worth of a child. - (Baker & Taylor)

Proud of everything that makes him who he is, a young Black narrator celebrates the creativity, adventurous spirit, humor and loyalty that shape his undeterred spirit and confident goals, even when people who do not understand try to limit his potential. By the award-winning creators of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

An upbeat, empowering, important picture book from the team that created the award-winning Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

I am
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He's got big plans, and no doubt he'll see them through--as he's creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he's afraid, because he's so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you--and shows you--who they are. There are superheroes in our midst! - (Penguin Putnam)

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