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I AM THE WORLD by Charles R. Smith Jr.


by Charles R. Smith Jr. ; photographed by Charles R. Smith Jr.

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: July 9th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4424-2302-2
Publisher: Atheneum

Once again, Smith offers appealing portraits of children in an effort to express the value of diversity (My People, by Langston Hughes, 2009, etc.).

Unfortunately the photographs are of varying quality, the brief text is often banal and repetitive, and some design choices obscure the artwork. Each picture, whether on a single page or double-page spread is captioned with a sentence that begins “I am....” In some cases, the words that follow are evocative and the images compelling: “I am the thread in kente cloth” accompanies a photo of a young, black woman gazing unsmiling into the camera. In others, the words chosen seem odd or inconsequential. Two of the weakest descriptions, “I am the snap in biscotti” and “I am the tradition in pierogi,” fail to effectively convey anything about the cultures they are meant to represent, and the playful, obviously posed photos wind up looking peculiar. On most pages, crisp, clear, white letters stand out against the black background with some words, usually one per page, printed in color to add visual interest. On a few pages, however, words printed across the faces of the children are distracting and difficult to read. Finally, while the appended glossary does offer basic definitions of the words and phrases used, it fails to effectively explain their pronunciation.

Well-intentioned and superficially attractive, this celebration of children and culture ultimately fails to educate or entertain. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)