Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review - Why Am I Me?

Why Am I Me?
by Paige Britt
illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko
Date: 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters -- who don't realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions -- this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.

If the first step toward healing the world is to build bridges of empathy and celebrate rather than discriminate, Why Am I Me? helps foster a much-needed sense of connection, compassion, and love.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm really getting tired of these picture books that are supposedly for children, but are just pretentious vehicles for the author to look smart and woke (or so they think). Merely portraying diversity in the illustrations does not a good book make.

This book could have been interesting, but it's so spare and unsatisfying that it really fails. All it does is repeat a bunch of simple existential questions, provides no answers, and calls it a day. Why am I me and not somebody else? It's something to think about. Who would other people be if they were me? Um... they'd be me, wouldn't they? (Besides, that's a moot point because you can't be anyone else. I really don't see the point of that question.)

For a book that's supposed to make kids think about how we're connected, it's not very strong. As an adult, I was confused by the message and wondered why the book kept asking such weird questions. Yes, it can be good to imagine putting ourselves in other people's shoes, and empathy is important... but there are other ways to get there that aren't so blatant, and other questions to ask that aren't so confusing.

The pictures were just okay for me. The characters are sort of blotchy and uneven, and I get that it's a style choice, but I don't like it here any more than I did in You Hold Me Up, another picture book that aims high but doesn't quite get there.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 0.83 out of 5

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