NONFICTION

Just Like Me

Knopf. Jan. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525582090.
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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.

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