A picture-book effort to raise consciousness in privileged readers about child labor and poverty.
On each spread, the simple text reads “I like [something]” on the verso and “I don’t like [the same something]” on the recto in order to juxtapose children set in very different, but related, scenes. The contrasting sentences and their accompanying mixed-media illustrations position the child who likes something as privileged and playful and the child who doesn’t like that same thing as exploited and oppressed while laboring. For example, facing pages that read, “I like shoes. / I don’t like shoes,” depict a white girl playing dress-up with high heeled shoes on the verso, while the recto illustration manipulates scale and depicts a barefoot child of color dwarfed by a large men’s dress shoe as she crouches before it with shoe-shine tools. The poignant, culminating spread breaks this established pattern and reads, “I like playing. / What is playing?” Throughout, striking illustrations include a racially diverse group of children in positions of privilege, but all the exploited child laborers appear to be children of color in different cultural contexts. Front- and backmatter pages reference the U.N.’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (noting that the United States has not ratified it) and point readers to organizations helping to reduce poverty and eliminate child labor.
A hard, heartfelt read. (Picture book. 4-8)