cover image I Am Odd, I Am New

I Am Odd, I Am New

Benjamin Giroux, illus. by Roz MacLean. Schiffer Kids, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7643-6241-5

Ten-year-old Giroux, who is autistic, wrote this affecting poem about the experience of being different for a fifth-grade school assignment, and the work went viral. Here, the acclaimed poem is accompanied by MacLean’s gentle, sensitive illustrations, rendered in assured fine lines and a light palette. Written from the perspective of one who feels like an outsider, the poem un-self-consciously grapples with challenging emotions, and the artwork mostly represents the rhymes literally, drawing on color and perspective to illustrate the narrator’s isolation. In one solitary scene, a light-skinned, bespectacled child sits in a room shaded blue: “I want to not feel blue.” But rainbow colors and an inclusive cast of children fill the page when the narrator expresses a discovery: “I am odd, I am new./ I understand now/ that so are you!” Later, paper airplanes soar with the suggestion that different shouldn’t mean separate, providing an answer to the poem’s hopeful concluding sentiments about finding where one belongs. Front matter includes a foreword by the National Autism Association. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)