#ReadIntl2020 Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Picture Books Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] What Makes Another “Just Like Me” in Picturebook Verse

.. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

Myra here.

Thank you to Irene Latham of Live Your Poem for hosting this week.

For our year of international literature, we are not just featuring translated literature, we are also sharing books written or illustrated by people of colour. This poetry book below is one such example, quite similar to what I shared last week.

Just Like Me (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poetry and Illustrations by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 0525582096 (ISBN13: 9780525582090). Borrowed via NLB Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I am generally cautious of titles that ostensibly highlight the sameness among diverse groups of people. I understand the sentiment and the intentions are generally well-meaning. However, I sometimes wonder whether it perpetuates the myth of likenesses (even within the same culture where there is striking variability) where an acknowledgment of It’s actually ok that we’re different from each other may also serve to convey a similar message in a more realistic tone.

That being said, this collection of poems is more a celebration of one’s self and community, welcoming the light, loving one’s body – pimples and all, and friendships and bullies and oddities, and the wisdom of those who came before. Here’s one that I wanted to share with you all:

There is also the recognition that as human beings we often long for what we do not have – kind of like one girl’s junk is another girl’s treasure. While we may yearn for different things, the bottom line is that ultimately, we all desire something.

The set of poems also did not claim that the invisible reader is just like me – but goes on to share poems about one girl and every girl and all their big feelings and paper chains and becoming sunshine. They are inevitably feel-good (who wouldn’t want to not feel good, anyway, right) and generally uplifting.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: The poet/illustrator is a POC from the US.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “[Poetry Friday] What Makes Another “Just Like Me” in Picturebook Verse

  1. Mitchell Linda

    What a beautiful book! The illustrations are such sweet companions to the poetry. Thank you for sharing this. I want to write like this! I want to paint like this!


  2. Thank you, Myra for sharing this book, which I, too, have read and enjoyed. And how great is that spelling of Memawh?? 🙂


  3. lindabaie

    It’s always fun to see that others want to be, well, like others! City Girl & Country Girl would be lots of fun to read to see what students dream of, too. I have this on my list, but still need to get and read it! Thanks, Myra!


  4. Myra, so many appreciations. Attention for Vanessa Brantley-Newton is just want I needed to have land in my lap, after attending a nourishing #KidLit4BlackLives event “in the air” june 4, 2020, where she sang to us. What an amazing, multi-talented, creative woman she is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Myra, this book is one that will evoke a good deal of feeling when read to children. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. haitiruth

    Looks like a lovely book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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