I Am Every Good Thing

  • Title: I Am Every Good Thing
  • Author: Derrick Barnes
  • Illustrator: Gordon C. James
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House: “The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through–as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you–and shows you–who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Here is another diverse voice to include in the “slice of life” category. This book, as well as the previous book I mentioned Carmela Full of Wishes, would also be ideal for a public library setting. If children need to see themselves represented positively in books, this is one that fulfills that need. As we learned in class, the truly striking fact is that there are not enough picture books with diverse representation. This is one that African American children (in this case, particularly African American boys) can see themselves positively portrayed and encouraged. I did find this YouTube video from Penguin Random House interesting as it gives a little detail into why Barnes wanted to write this book.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it. – The detailed illustrations rendered in oil paint are vibrant and seem with each turn of the page to be constantly moving. Each page has different African American boys represented, in varying skintones. Probably one of my favorite illustrations is the two-page spread where the background is a vivid, bright yellow and the boy is jumping in air in jubilation.

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