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.