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Looking Like Me Hardcover – October 27, 2009
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"The sassy rhythm and empowering message of this poem in picture book format will appeal to both students and teachers alike. As Jeremy goes about his day, he contemplates everything that makes him unique. He walks around his urban neighborhood and discovers that he is a son, brother, artist, dreamer, runner, and much more. Throughout the book, his strong connections with his community and his family are emphasized. The reader can feel Jeremy's energy and hear his exuberant voice. This joyful, confident, well-adjusted, and well-rounded character is a nice change from typical minority stereotypes. The vibrant and bold collage art adds to the energy of the book. This book can be used in a poetry unity and can kick off a writing assignment where students discover what makes them unique. It can be used in art class as an example of using collage and photographs in art. Counselors can use it with self-esteem units. Students will enjoy the jazzy rhythm and upbeat message of the poem. The possibilities for this book are endless. Highly Recommended." ―starred review, Library Media Connection(Journal)
"Walt Whitman once wrote, 'I contain multitudes,' and that important concept is brilliantly interpreted here by the Myers' father-son partnership. The elder Myers' rhythmic poem celebrates a young Everyman from Harlem who looks in the mirror to 'see a real handsome dude looking just like me.' Moving through the city, he encounters family and friends who share their points of view: 'Along came my sister, / fine as she can be. / "Hey, Jeremy," she said, / "You're little brother to me."' Each helps him see that he is a valued artist, runner, dreamer, and more, and that he has a lot to give to himself and the world. The innovative art and design represent different identities with colorful silhouettes placed against photos of people, places, and icons. Sometimes the connections are more obvious, like the photo of a sun, which plays on the word son, and there is an image of a stingray accompanying Jeremy's reference to himself as 'a silver-rayed moonbeamer'; other images, such as Buddha heads, giraffes, and ketchup bottles, suggest more abstract connections. The overall effect is that of performers in front of a huge screen of rapidly changing images at a pop concert or a video game, and blocks of solid color provide visual rest and keep the gutters clear. This very contemporary work is encouraging, energetic, and inspired." ―starred, Booklist(Journal)
"Self-esteem picture books have taken some abuse in these pages (see Daniel Greenstone's 'Ain't I Great!: The Problem with Self-Esteem,' November/December 2008), but even the more curmudgeonly among us might appreciate the message when it's dressed up as fine as it is in this picture book by Myers pére et fils. The poem-text has both swagger and bounce ('I looked in the mirror / and what did I see? / A real handsome dude / looking just like me') as young Jeremy celebrates, in cumulating verses, all the people, places, and things that make him who he is: he's his sister’s brother, his father's son, a writer to his teacher, and so on. Each verse ends with variations on an irresistible chorus: 'She put out her fist. / I gave it a bam! / I added dancer / to the answer / of just who I am!' Christopher Myers's collage illustrations present Matisse-like cutouts of human figures in hot, strong colors against almost abstractly cropped photos―a parade, a boxing ring, animals at the zoo―that suggest a world brimming with riches." ―The Horn Book Magazine(Journal)
"The dynamic father-son duo returns with another high-energy poetry book. Looking Like Me is a song of oneself, and of all of the elements that make up and define an individual. On first looking in the mirror, Jeremy sees 'a real handsome dude/looking just like me.' When friends and family see him, he discovers that he is also a brother, a son, a writer, a city child―a whole world in one self. The poetry sings with Walter Dean Myers's trademark urban verve. Jeremy punctuates his encounters by fist-bumping his family members and associates and exclaiming 'I gave it [the fist] a BAM!' This now-familiar gesture powerfully expresses the solidarity Jeremy feels with the others in his community. Moreover, these encounters underline how his relationships shape his perceptions of himself. The rhyme and repetition flow naturally, capturing the rhythms of everyday conversation and the hip-hop beats many children hear daily. Christopher Myers's bold, vivid illustrations fuel the energy of his father's verse. Bright paper cutouts of the characters stand before photo collages that capture lively occasions in a variety of cultures. These paper figures are blue, green, and other colors that do not correspond to natural skin tones. Children of any ethnic background thus can project themselves onto the silhouettes. This book is an excellent introduction to verse, for it vividly demonstrates how poetry is a vital part of daily life." ―starred, School Library Journal(Journal)
"The Myerses―father and son―reunite for a poetic celebration of self that blends a sort of Whitman-esque hip-hop with '70s-vibe visuals. Adapting the cumulative cadences of Bill Martin's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Walter Dean Myers's text immediately establishes a preeminent self-affirmation: 'I looked in the mirror / And what did I see? / A real handsome dude looking just like me.' Narrator Jeremy hears from a succession of family, neighbors and community members and adds role after role to his portfolio. He's a brother, son, writer, city kid, artist, dancer, talker, runner, dreamer: 'Looked in the mirror― / I look like a crowd.' Christopher Myers overlays eclectic photo collages with stylized, silhouetted figures in saturated hues of chartreuse, butternut, chocolate, magenta and more. The text's two upper-case typefaces look like gritty, spray-painted stencils and whimsical woodcuts. There's a touch of call-and-response in the refrain ('He put out his fist. / I gave it a BAM!') that begs to be read aloud. This vibrant synthesis of poetry and pictures is a natural for classrooms and family sharing." ―starred, Kirkus Reviews(Journal)
About the Author
Walter Dean Myers is a writer, a photography collector, a flute player, a cat owner, a Harlem native, a former basketball player, a husband, and a father. You can visit him at www.walterdeanmyers.net.
Christopher Myers is an artist, a writer, a photographer, a clothes designer, a Brooklynite, a former baseball player, and a son.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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"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.
I don't actually know the complete story behind "Looking Like Me". As near as I can figure, though, it was something like this: Under normal circumstances picture book poetry titles are written first, illustrated second. That's how Myers, father and son, did "Harlem" and "Blues Journey" and such. "Looking Like Me" was completely different. First, Chris Myers made the art for one project and Walter Dean Myers wrote the poem for another. Then some genius somewhere thought to put the two together and by gum, it worked! That's no mean feat. To find a way to make a picture of a three-headed dude wearing white earmuffs make sense in the context of a story that was written for an entirely different purpose takes equal amounts of skill and luck.
It's probably too late to claim that this is the first instance of fist bumping in a children's book. I'm gonna go out on a limb, though, and claim that it IS the first instance of fist-bumping in a children's work of poetry put out by a major publisher. That's hardly the biggest innovation the book's text supports, though. Walter Dean Myers is the kind of guy who basically exudes depth and meaning every time he breathes. Which is great, of course, but it's nice to see him doing something a little lighter here. The book feels happy. Bouncy even. The first line sets the tone, and everything after that is just jocular. "Grandma's rings and bangles gave such a noisy BAM! / They were really celebrating the kind of guy I am."
Now the art is an interesting combination of techniques. Flip to the publication page and not a word is breathed about Chris and his style. Here are a couple of things we do know. The cover is a mix of cut paper and an enlarged microscopic image. Recently Chris has been playing around with microscopes. He's blown up slides of things like tree bark, enlarged them, and the vibrant colors. Inside the book are photographs, physical objects, and cut paper silhouettes of varying colors that over and underlap one another. Faces exist with cut out eyes. Mouths put out long house-covered tongues or open to reveal the necks of other mouths with other necks. It could be nightmarish if placed with the right text, but here it's a gentle surreality. Walter takes away the dark elements, so that the book has a dreamlike rather than nightmarish quality to it.
And I like the font. Sorry. That's a relatively dull way to end a review of a book of this sort, but it's true. I like it. That and the words, colors, energy, tone, and message, of course. Little things like that. On the surface it's a book about loving who you are, but dig a little deeper and you'll find a visual stimulant and unapologetic shout of joy. This is a book that enjoys being a book. Read it with a smile on your face. You can bet plenty of kids will.
"Miss Kay put out her fist.
I gave it a
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!
A special jivey bounce adds to the prose and the bold colors add to the coolness of the book.
Who do you see when you look at people or even at yourself? An astronaut, a pet keeper, a dancer, a singer, a jazz band guitarist? So many options to be.
A great book to get kids to look at all the things and people they can be and even at the same time.
Egmont USA published this fun, cool picture book.