cover image I Am Thomas

I Am Thomas

Libby Gleeson, illus. by Armin Greder. Allen & Unwin (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-74237-333-1

Readers don’t see Thomas, a moody, dreamy adolescent, until the final pages of the book that bears his name. Instead, Greder draws Thomas’s old toys scattered across the floor—a globe, a kite, a ship, a lighthouse—all emblems of flight and escape. Gleeson’s spare text has little narrative; it’s mostly competing voices. “I am not the child my brother is,” Thomas says. “I am not the student they all are.” Thomas’s family reproaches him: “You are heading for failure,” they say, radiating disapproval and glaring out at readers, who may feel some of what Thomas does. Out on the crowded street, it’s worse. “Do as we say... think like us... be like us,” say robotic strangers in anonymous business suits. “Join up,” bellows a recruiter. “Vote for us,” leers a politician. Thomas appears at last; his eyes burn with resolve. He turns his old toy bus over in his hands, and, in the final spread, boards a real bus, destination unknown. It’s a young adult novel compressed into a picture book, beautifully and perceptively executed. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)