cover image I Can Be All Three

I Can Be All Three

Salima Alikhan, illus. by Noor Sofi. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-6659-0184-0

A child feels torn about how to represent themself at a school’s multicultural day in this effective exploration of cultural and personal identity. At home, “Papa cooks/ keema and tikka masala” and “Stories of India/ fill the room”; Mama, meanwhile, makes “bratwurst and schnitzel” and tells stories of Germany. And at school, the child reads superhero comics, and “I speak English,/ eat pizza, cheeseburgers, chips.” Given an assignment to create “a special item/ that tells the story/ of who you are,” the child watches as the other students easily plan what they’ll do. But “nothing feels like quite enough” until a family dinner suggests an idea. Asking “If all three worlds/ are bright inside me,/ do I have to be/ just one?” Alikhan renders a complex social concept with laudable simplicity, in doing so reassuring readers by speaking to “the hushed hopes/ of many worlds/ wrapped up inside of us.” Pattern-swirled digital illustrations from Sofi render wide-eyed, Disney-like characters with various skin tones. Ages 4–8. (June)