I Am Every Good Thing

by Derrick Barnes (Author) Gordon C James (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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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School Library Journal

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., Mankato

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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.
Derrick Barnes
Derrick Barnes wrote the critically acclaimed picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Award. 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.

Vanessa Brantley-Newton has illustrated numerous picture books, including The Girl Who Heard Colors (by Marie Harris), Mary Had a Little Glam (by Tammi Sauer), One Love (by Cedella Marley), A Night Out with Mama (by Quvenzhané Wallis), and The Youngest Marcher (by Cynthia Levinson), as well as the chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys (by Derrick Barnes) and Jada Jones (by Kelly Starling Lyons). She wrote and illustrated Let Freedom Sing and Grandma's Purse. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780525518778
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
0
Publication date
September 20, 2020
Series
-
Age Range
3 - 7 years
Kirkus Prize
Finalist 2020

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