My Name

Farrar,. Aug. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374314637.
Gr 2-4–On his first day of school, an Indian American boy is encouraged by his parents to honor the many names he will encounter, along with his own: “Say your new friends’ names out loud/ And the name belonging to you/ Carefully, kindly/ And they will too.” At school, however, others have difficulty pronouncing the boy’s name, which makes him feel ostracized, different, and alone. When he gets home, his parents help him to understand that different doesn’t mean bad and, what’s more, that his name, culture, and heritage are all things to be proud of and to celebrate—a message he joyfully takes back to his classmates: “My name means I’m different/ Just like yours does too./ My name means I’m me./ Your name means you’re you.” While there is certainly no lack of titles on the topic of names, Kelkar’s take is lovely and affirming. The lyrical text is rhythmically pleasing and constructed to pointedly contrast the boy’s initial shame with the love, pride, and joy his name evokes. This contrast is evident in Prabhat’s bold digital illustrations as well; the artist adeptly uses a palette of blue, green, orange, and brown to capture and express the protagonist’s shifting emotions. Notes from the author and illustrator speak to their own experiences with their names.
VERDICT A worthy contribution. Pair with Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s Your Name Is a Song or Juana Martinez-Neal’s How Alma Got Her Name for a lesson or story time on the beauty and power of names and identity.

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