by Derrick Barnes (Author) Gordon C James (Illustrator)
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!
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A much-needed book for Black children when society demonstrates otherwise.. Through every stroke readers will see that Black boys are 'worthy / to be loved.' The title says it all: Black boys are 'every good thing.
PreS-Gr 3—"I am a nonstop ball of energy. Powerful and full of light. I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader." Page after page of empowering text speaks to energetic children everywhere, as the author-illustrator team behind Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut return with another top-notch celebration of Black boys. The catchy text exudes confidence as different speakers energetically proclaim their competence at science and sports, as well as their creativity and perseverance. Background characters are of various races, but the stars of every page are Black, and they explore, soar, soak up information, and make a difference. The pace slows as the speaker admits he sometimes is afraid of what others call him but refuses to let those attitudes define him. The vibrant illustrations reinforce the energy as groups and individuals share their gifts with the world, including a cameo by Barack Obama. Remembering their ancestors and their fathers, and acknowledging their own strengths, a line of boys gaze at the reader before the book's final declaration, "I am worthy to be loved." VERDICT Pulsing rhythms and bright images combine for a worthy and timely choice for every collection.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., MankatoCopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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, LLC Used with permission.
* Barnes and James reunite, after the multi-award-winning success of Crown, for this beautiful and necessary book that affirms Black boys and their right to thrive. James's vibrant oil-paint illustrations harmoniously depict Black boys in motion, in contemplation, and in full vitality as they skateboard, swim, or stand contemplatively in the outdoors. Barnes's refrain throughout the book . . . is a powerful, present-tense reminder that normalizes the robust lives Black boys deserve to live. . . . Lets Black boys know they are loved and valued just as they are, with unlimited possibilities. Movingly, one boy affirms for himself and for the reader, 'I am not what they might call me, / and I will not answer to any name that is not my own.' Fortunately, Barnes and James provide us with a range of powerful, positive names to call Black boys as they urge us to see them, to love them, and to let them live their lives as they deserve.--Horn Book, starred review