By Laura Ennis, BK Story Voyager Librarian
By Vanessa Brantley-Newton
(for readers in grades preschool –3rd Grade)
April is National Poetry Month, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s Just Like Me is the perfect poetry month read. Brantley-Newton uses the voices of various girls to discuss community, identity, seasons, and friendship. In the poem, “A Wish for Daddy,” Brantley discusses raw issues of a brown-skinned girl with braids as she looks onto her classmate playing with her father, “She dances on his feet/and he tells her she’s sweet/ I wish I had a daddy / That would be so neat” showing the longing that some kids feel when they feel a void. Most of the poems in Just Like Me are more lighthearted though, it is a relatable poetry book that all children will enjoy reading. They will continue to come back to the book again and again.
Brantley-Newton’s mixed-media illustrations are vivid and expressive. The words of the poems are uncomplicated and relatable; and the pictures display the true heart of the poems. Like a modern, more multicultural Shel Silverstein book. There are a variety of girls — curly and straight haired, ethnically diverse, blemish dotted, glasses wearing, spunky, shy, lonely, and empowered — that many children can connect with. Just Like Me is a wonderful way to give your child a piece of poetry! This book gives your children an opportunity to open up about the issues that are weighing on them from school to family to friendships.