I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Here I Am is a wordless picture book that follows a young boy as he travels from his home country to the U.S., and how he adjusts to his new life.
I admit, I had to look through this book twice. I think I wasn’t as observant as I should have been the first time through. Also, I hadn’t read the synopsis. I chose the book because of the art, something I do very often with picture books. The author’s note in the back explains what is portrayed in the pictures. The second time I read through the book, I saw so much more in it. I think Here I Am does a few things really well. For me at least, it’s a window into the life and feelings of immigrant children. I also really like that there’s no mention of where the boy came from. Beside being relatively fair-skinned, he is racially and ethnically ambiguous. That presents a great opportunity for children to identify with him. Though there aren’t many characters in the book the people in the backgrounds and the supporting characters present a diverse range or races and ethnicities. I just want to praise this book for it’s impact without the use of words. Visual representation can be a strong way to send a message. It’s more memorable and it doesn’t require a translation. Someone in China can read this book as easily as I can. The lack of words also made me stop and take the time to look at everything in the pictures. I think that’s something I forget to do sometimes. I needed that reminder to slow down and enjoy my picture books. What’s really great about a wordless picture book like this is that it gives caregivers so many options. They could make up a story to go along with the pictures that catered to a specific child. They could provide commentary on or ask questions about the pictures without interrupting a story line. I’m sure there are more creative ways to use this book.
I think out of all the picture books I’ve read in the past few months, this one really stood out. I highly recommend it.