cover image Just Like Me

Just Like Me

Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-58209-0

In this picture-book poetry collection, Brantley-Newton (Grandma’s Purse) writes in the voices of various girls, exploring themes such as community and identity (“I Am a Canvas”), simple pleasures (“Summer Loves”), and unavoidable troubles (“Pimples”). Ranging from a few lines to the length of a page, the poems are matched with bright, textured, mixed-media illustrations featuring a variety of girls—curly and straight haired, ethnically diverse, blemish dotted, glasses wearing, spunky, shy, lonely, and empowered—in highly relatable moments. One standout piece, “A Wish For Daddy,” departs from some of the sunnier themes to address a feeling of longing: a brown-skinned girl with braids watches the joyful interactions between a schoolmate and her grinning father: “She dances on his feet/ and he tells her she’s sweet/ I wish I had a daddy/ That would be so neat.” Thoughtful, inclusive, and celebratory, this collection encourages readers to look both inward and outward, and to use kindness as a link to “go/ higher and higher/ pulling each one up.” Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]