Just Like Me

by Vanessa Newton (Author)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that's just for them.

I am a canvas

Being painted on

By the words of my family


And community

From Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the author of Grandma's Purse, comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don't; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa's signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.

"A dynamic, uplifting, and welcoming world of girls."--Kirkus

"Thoughtful, inclusive, and celebratory"--Publishers Weekly

"Bursting with positivity, this would be a great book to use in primary school classrooms when discussing issues of friendship, diversity, and self-esteem."--Booklist

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Publishers Weekly

In this picture-book poetry collection, Brantley-Newton (Grandma's Purse) writes in the voices of various girls, exploring themes such as community and identity ("I Am a Canvas"), simple pleasures ("Summer Loves"), and unavoidable troubles ("Pimples"). Ranging from a few lines to the length of a page, the poems are matched with bright, textured, mixed-media illustrations featuring a variety of girls--curly and straight haired, ethnically diverse, blemish dotted, glasses wearing, spunky, shy, lonely, and empowered--in highly relatable moments. One standout piece, "A Wish For Daddy," departs from some of the sunnier themes to address a feeling of longing: a brown-skinned girl with braids watches the joyful interactions between a schoolmate and her grinning father: "She dances on his feet/ and he tells her she's sweet/ I wish I had a daddy/ That would be so neat." Thoughtful, inclusive, and celebratory, this collection encourages readers to look both inward and outward, and to use kindness as a link to "go/ higher and higher/ pulling each one up." Ages 4-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--This collection of 28 poems features bright and colorful illustrations depicting a variety of girls. Brantley-Newton's artwork pops with neon bright shades and interesting textiles, exuding a welcoming, cheerful vibe. The poems encourage girls to love their bodies and families, and to embrace their unique personalities. On the surface, this appears to be a work of feel-good poems for young readers; however, a handful of verses discuss topics that might deter some adults from using the book as a storytime read-aloud, like "Sundress Blues," in which a gust of wind exposes a girl's underwear. "A Wish for Daddy" shows a young girl who envies another girl's tender relationship with her father. There is a subtle reference to religion in "Memawh's Wisdom," where a girl is cautioned to make "the right choice...and keep the Good Book handy...and don't forget to pray." Readers will appreciate the author's inclusive approach to the artwork (girls of many races are represented), though the illustrations are not diverse in terms of body type, physical ability, or gender expression. VERDICT A bright addition to refresh any poetry collection.--Shannon O'Connor, Unami Middle School, Chalfont, PA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Thoughtful, inclusive, and celebratory." —Publishers Weekly

"Simple, upbeat, and affirming—a great reminder of what is to be gained when girls appreciate their own uniqueness and that of others. A dynamic, uplifting, and welcoming world of girls." —Kirkus Reviews

"Bursting with positivity, this would be a great book to use in primary school classrooms when discussing issues of friendship, diversity, and self-esteem." —Booklist
Vanessa Newton
Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children's book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Grandma's Purse and has illustrated numerous children's books, including Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. Learn more about Vanessa and her artwork at VanessaBrantleyNewton.com and on Facebook.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date
January 20, 2020
BISAC categories
POE005010 - Poetry | American | General
Library of Congress categories
American poetry
Children's poetry, American

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