WHO WE ARE! by Robie H. Harris


All About Being the Same and Being Different
From the "Let's Talk About You and Me" series
Age Range: 4 - 7
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This installment of the Let’s Talk About You and Me series tackles a wide range of topics related to human diversity.

Opening text affirms everyone’s uniqueness: “All around the world there are people—billions of people. But there is only one of you,” while Westcott’s art depicts ethnically diverse families entering a theme park called Funland. There are interracial families, a child using a wheelchair, a woman wearing a headscarf, and a two-dad family. One interracial family, including a black mother, white father, two children, and a baby appears in every spread, and the children’s speech-balloon conversation punctuates the narrative text’s statements about hair texture, skin color, eye shape, languages, dress, stature, etc. While the intention is clearly inclusive, some phrasing may give readers pause: “People’s bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or a boy, or a man or a woman,” for instance, ignores increasing awareness of intersex bodies and transgender identity. Illustrations also do little to present diversity in body shape and size, since the majority of people depicted are slim. Readers are invited to consider the pain caused by “saying mean things,” which pushes beyond surface celebration of diversity. This leads to a closing reiteration of each person’s uniqueness while also emphasizing that “we are more the same than we are different,” especially with regard to feelings. [Note: Subsequent printings of the book replace the sentence "People's bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or boy, or a man or a woman" with the following text: "People’s bodies are mostly the same except for the private parts we are born with. Those parts are called a vagina or a penis.”]

An uneven but nevertheless worthy effort. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6903-4
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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