cover image You Matter

You Matter

Christian Robinson. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-2169-1

Simple and heartfelt, the refrain of Caldecott Honoree Robinson’s poem speaks directly to readers: “You matter.” In a neat rhetorical twist, the line also refers to the Earth itself, whose evolutionary history flashes by in gently comic collages made with blocky forms and bold paint strokes. Early sea life darts beneath a blue wave, small quadrupeds emerge from the ocean, dinosaurs appear. Under Robinson’s broad gaze, everything in the cosmos has a part to play: whether a massive asteroid blazing Earthward (“If you fall down”) or the planet, revived, spinning serenely in space (“If you have to start all over again”), “You matter.” Human concerns recede in geological time, then come into focus as a brown-skinned astronaut orbits Earth while holding a photo of a child. A page turn shows the child back on Earth looking wistfully out an apartment window: “Sometimes, someone you love says goodbye.” Scenes shift; the view from the child’s apartment window moves in, from a busy city street to ants dining on park pigeons’ crumbs, and then pulls back to a child gazing out an airplane window at an antlike cityscape below. By seeing all life as intertwined—ancient and new, minuscule and gargantuan, “The first to go and the last.// The small stuff too small to see”—Robinson represents life as both interconnected and precious. It’s a profound thought expressed with singular focus and eloquence. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June)