[DiverseKidLit] When PictureBook + Graphic Novel Form Collide to Establish A Sense of Place and Identity in Patti Kim’s “Here I Am” with Pictures by Sonia Sanchez

Myra here.

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

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We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, August 6th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Theme Idea for August

We thought it might be fun to try having a suggested theme for the next linkup. Those who are interested in participating in the theme would have from now until the next linkup (August 6th) to write a post based around the theme and then share it with the rest of us. You do not have to focus on a given theme to participate in the linkup, but we thought it might encourage folks to explore and share new diverse books.

The theme for the August 6th linkup is … Diverse Books for Back to School. Please consider sharing a favorite book (or books) either about school / back to school or that might make a great read aloud during those first few weeks of school. We look forward to seeing your choices!

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #DiverseKidLit linkup comes from Acorn BooksChicken Man by Michelle Edwards. This book is the winner of a National Jewish Book Award and tells the story of a character named Rody, nicknamed Chicken Man, and how his joy in his work makes everyone on the kibbutz want to try his job next. Make sure you read to the end of the post for an incredibly-tasty looking recipe for Teigelach cookies.

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We have been celebrating transitions this week at GatheringBooks as we explore our current reading theme: Nomads, Homes, and Habitats – Restlessness and Refuge in Literature until end of August. I shared five picturebooks about kids moving to a new place for Monday Reading, and Dan Yaccarino’s own personal narrative of immigration and journey for Nonfiction Wednesday. I thought it would be good to cap off this week with Here I Am for DiverseKidLit Saturday.


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Here I Am

Story by: Patti Kim Pictures by: Sonia Sanchez
Published by: Capstone Young Readers, 2014 ISBN: 1479519316 (ISBN13: 9781479519316)
Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have long been a fan of wordless picturebooks. It is rare, however, that I chance upon an incredible fusion text such as this that defies the usual traditional genre, as it carves a niche of its own – showing how narrative fuses and collides and develops a life of its own particularly when paired with amazing artistry.

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The young boy in this story has just moved to a new place with his family. The art depicts this sense of being uprooted, the chaos, and how everything appears incomprehensible. Even the signs seem like a meaningless jumble of letters. The young boy derives a sense of comfort from the tiny little seed that he brought from home, as it seemed to take on magical powers that transport him to a different time, a different place (see below).

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I was particularly struck by how vividly the emotions are captured in the art: note the father’s tenderness above, the young boy’s furrow-browed-annoyance, and the mother’s seeming obliviousness and exhaustion – all serving to magnify the child’s sense of aloneness as he holds on to the seed in his pocket which brings forth images of a well-lit home, sparkling trees, and easy conversations around street corners.

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The image above provides a bit of a clue as to where the child might possibly be: New York! Over and beyond this bit of information, one also feels the sense of dislocation, the huddled confusion over a map, and the shadows found in all corners, the people nothing but mere sketches. It is when the young boy accidentally drops his precious seed and was caught by a young girl that things started to gradually change for him. Once determined to just remain at home, he now seeks out the young girl who is holding his seed, and as he does, his view of the city begins to change.

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In the Author’s Afterword, Patti Kim shared her own personal narrative of moving to the United States from Busan, Korea when she was only four years old. Forty years after, she was inspired to share this narrative in the hopes of reaching out to people who are facing something new in their lives (be it moving to a different home or something else altogether) to help them know that they are not alone. She noted:

What happens to us when we forget to be afraid? We loosen our firm grip on what belongs to us. We open our hands. We share. We give.

And that’s how the child’s seed gets planted, how roots spread, and how a tree comes to life.

This is a book you will need to experience for yourself.

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#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

  1. My appreciation for wordless books is increasing. I’m going to check this book out. Thanks for the sugestion.

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  2. This is really such a stunning book. I have long been obsessed with wordless picture books, and this one is no exception. It’s amazing how much can be expressed and conveyed just through images.

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  3. booksbeforebandaids July 24, 2016 at 11:04 am

    This looks amazing, can’t wait to check it out.

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  4. Wow, these illustrations look truly stunning. I’m going to have to check this out. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love this book (found it recently at a used book sale). Trying to figure out how to use it with my whole class, since so many of the details require being up-close and personal with the book. Great review to encourage others to check out this #diversekidlit gem!

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