cover image Me I Am!

Me I Am!

Jack Prelutsky, , illus. by Christine Davenier. . FSG/Kroupa, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34902-8

Like Dr. Seuss's "Sam I Am" (from Green Eggs and Ham ), Prelutsky's trio of heroes extols the virtues of individualism. However, it is Davenier's (Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen ) imaginative artwork that brings this playful picture book uniquely to life. All of the three featured characters insist, "I am the only Me I Am / who qualifies as me;/ no Me I Am has been before,/ and none will ever be." Davenier portrays each child with enough specific details and comedic vignettes to create three visual stories even though the poem itself does not differentiate character traits or personal effects. A sports-minded girl full of joie de vivre rejects a fancy dress in favor of a pirate's outfit. A budding scientist happily creates a makeshift bird hospital for an injured feathered friend. An inventive aspiring ballerina creates a hat from a tissue box, and gives a backyard performance with her dog ("Tickets 5¢"). When her pet steals the word "Me " from the text, all three children join up in hot pursuit of the pooch, attracting many other kids. On the final spread, the multicultural parade climbs over the word Me! as if it were an enticing piece of playground equipment. Davenier's distinctive, lively illustrations save the book from being an endorsement of the Me-too generation's fixation on the self. She transforms it into a celebration of creativity and emphasizes all those human endeavors that both set us apart and bring us together. Ages 3-6. (May)