Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters -- who don't realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions -- this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.
If the first step toward healing the world is to build bridges of empathy and celebrate rather than discriminate, Why Am I Me? helps foster a much-needed sense of connection, compassion, and love.
Britt (The Lost Track of Time) and husband-and-wife collaborators Qualls and Alko (The Case for Loving) are in a philosophical frame of mind. Their protagonists a boy and a girl, one white, one brown have boarded an elevated train with a parent (the boy has been to a bookstore, the girl to music lessons) and are headed home. As the train moves through the city a benevolent, multicultural landscape depicted in lushly textured, jewel-toned collage and paint the children fall into identical reveries. "Why am I me... and not you?" they wonder. Can you be "someone lighter, older, darker, bolder" and still be the same you? Britt doesn't offer a resolution hardly surprising, since these questions have vexed philosophers for millennia but the children aren't anxious. Both are happy and safe, and the park they pass is filled with people enjoying a fine evening together. Life is strange, when you think about it, but it can be good, too which isn't a bad mixed message to send. Ages 4 8. Author's agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. Illustrator's agent: (for Alko) Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary; (for Qualls) Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties.