What an emotionally caustic environment our country has become. It seems that there is one tragedy after another. A sad place to be raising children! I wish I could say that the mid-terms solved everything. While it may not change the minds of the tiny, powerful minority, it reaffirmed for me that a good portion of the country is not afraid of "the other," the "different from us."
For the few that seek to polarize and corrupt this country, I would love to send them books like All Are Welcome, Polar Bear Island, and this delightfully simple, yet powerful new picture book by Suzanne Bloom - I Just Like You! Maybe if we get them into the hands, and minds, of enough kids, some adults will actually learn "through the mouths of babes."
I Just Like You
Author/Illustrator: Suzanne Bloom
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (2018)
Friendship, diversity, acceptance, and animals
Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):
With a subtle message of tolerance and acceptance, this irresistibly sweet book features animal friends who like each other despite—and because of—their differences. An elephant and a cat might look different from each other, a lemur and a stork might enjoy different activities, and a lion and a mouse might have different hairstyles, but all the animals value and appreciate one another, as shown by exuberant scenes of playing together. The short, simple text will hold the attention of young children and the artwork includes clever and funny details for them to look for as they listen. I Just Like You also models the ways young children make friends, with simple conversation starters of sharing opinions and trading compliments.
You don't look just like me.
You don't see the things I see.
You don't walk just like me.
You don't talk just like me.
You just like me.
Why I like this book:
Using just 50 distinct words (not to be confused with the word count) and bright line and watercolor illustrations, Suzanne Bloom has created a book that celebrates the large and small differences that exist between all of us. Since, even within one's immediate family (not to mention communities), there are differences in appearances, tastes, abilities, and personalities, this is a book with universal appeal and applicability.
Her anthropomorphized animal characters will delight and enthrall kids as they hunt for the differences in each spread, sometimes seen in simple images and sometimes embedded in more complex illustrations.
Text and image © Suzanne Bloom, 2018.
For instance, the text guides the reader in a simple compare and contrast of the shapes/images that a very dapper pig and llama see in the clouds. As well as the differences between a cat and an elephant, and the way animals move or dress.
Text and image © Suzanne Bloom, 2018.
As the book progresses, more and more differences are "hidden" in the illustrations. For instances, different emotions, food, and reading materials. At first glance, this spread reveals the various methods of reading among these animals. But Suzanne leaves it to the reader to dive further into the image and find all the different things one can read - music, maps, braille, blueprints, two of her other books (one in English, one in Danish), and more.
This book strongly reminds me of Oscar Wilde's saying, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." As a world of unique, marvelous, complex individuals, we should treasure each other's indiviuality. The final couple of pages revel in the bold, quirkiness of Suzanne's characters. This is a beautiful book celebrating the joy of accepting one another.
- pair this book with All Are Welcome (by Alexa Penfold, ill. by Suzanne Kaufman), Polar Bear Island (by Lindsay Bonilla), and Making a Friend (by Tammi Sauer) for a great, inclusive read-aloud time;
- make friendship bracelets;
- using name tags, write "I Just Like You" on them and exchange them with classmates; or
- make a new friend today.
If you missed Suzanne Bloom's interview this Monday, check it out (here).
This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.