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Says the parent to the librarian, "I need something for my child to improve their self-esteem" they'll say. Uh-huh. Fine. Self-esteem. That's the kind of topic that inspires the worst possible books for kids, you know. Cute forest animals who learn about sharing and small classroom dramas about "being yourself." If an author goes out there and says, "I'm going to write a book about self-esteem" they may find it near impossible to do well. Books of that sort have to come from someplace deep inside, or else they end up sounding like a novelization of a Barney the Dinosaur episode. So the next time a parent comes up to me and repeats that request, I'm going to be ready. My reference desk is situated a mere two and a half feet from the poetry shelves. I will look them in the eye, push my chair to the right, and pluck "Looking Like Me" by Walter Dean & Chris Myers out of the J811 Myers section. And if they start in with the "I don't know if I want poetry" nonsense, I shall explain that this is the best of the best. A combination of text and image so far and above the usual schlock that they simply have no choice. They must take it. And I will say this with the confidence that is born of knowing that you are 100% right.
"I looked in the mirror and what did I see? / A real handsome dude looking just like me." Two handsome dudes, father and son, come together to write a book of poetry about a kid who has all kinds of identities. He's a son and a brother. A poet and a runner. "I'm a city child. / I love the dizzy heights, / the concrete, the steel, / the bright neon lights." He's a dancer and a dreamer. This kid is all sorts of things. Set against Christopher Myers' eye-popping paper and photographic collages, we see how many people one person can be.Read more ›
Everyone is a me, myself and I and someone very unique and special. Jeremy is a city boy living in Harlem who has lots of things to put on his "I am list." He was handsome, he was a brother, a son, a writer, a student, he was proud, a "city child," an artist, a dancer, a "talker with many tales to tell," a secret keeper, and a boy with many words to share. A special teacher, Miss Kay, saw him writing in his book and asked it he was a writer. It was an affirmation of his talent.
"Miss Kay put out her fist. I gave it a BAM!
Say Jeremy, Say brother, Say son, Say writer, That's who I am."
Jeremy's "I am list" was long because, like all people, he was made up of more than just that handsome dude he saw in the mirror. He could run, he could dream, and he could BAM! Can you make a list like Jeremy, an "I am Jam?"
This book was so rhythmical that it will set your toes to tapping within a few stanzas. I enjoyed the way Jeremy exuded self-confidence and just knew he was made up of many, many special things. About the only thing I found lacking from this book was an online song to sing it to. The artwork was very vibrant and unusual. It appeared to be a computer generated collage mixed with some very interesting photographs like an inverted Heinz catsup bottle and a golden Buddha. If you want a book to pump up the jam, this is one that will make you want to get up and dance!
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Just 32 pages long, this brief, little picture book would be a welcome read for children of all ages, adults too, because of the message of self-esteem it imparts. I enjoyed listening to it and am sorry I did not get to see the illustrations. The narrators read it with inspiring expression and feeling. Everyone reading or listening to this lyrical, rap-rhythm presentation of the book, will get the message of hope and confidence, the message to believe in one’s own ability to be all that is possible. It is an uplifting message that is sorely needed, not only in urban communities, but everywhere in the world!
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