Children enact a litany of positive exhortations.
“You are right now. What are you? // You are a cloud and a ray of light. / You are the tallest tree. // An open door. / A silly dance.” From this metaphorical opening, Olien’s text segues to affirmations that even if many people “don’t see your beauty…someone does. // You are not bad. Even when you feel upset. / Or when you make a mistake.” But then it turns back to the metaphorical, telling children that they are a “small squeak. // A loud purr. / A belly laugh,” and so on. This is illustrated by scenes of children of many different skin tones and hair textures that, if not actively literal, attempt to evoke the feeling summoned by each statement. “You are a cloud and a ray of light” is illustrated by a picture of a brown-skinned, pigtailed child relaxing in the grass with a dog; even though there are a few clouds, readers will have to infer the ray of light. But in another scene, a child in a lion costume looks appropriately “ferocious.” The overall gist of the book is unmistakable, and children will probably get the basic message that they matter, “No matter what you do. // No matter where you live. / Or what you look like.” But will readers understand how the “whole universe lives inside” them?
Far too allusive for its concrete-thinking audience. (Picture book. 4-7)