Review of You Matter

You Matter
by Christian Robinson; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.    g
6/20    978-1-5344-2169-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2170-7    $10.99

No saccharine self-esteem book, this is a powerful affirmation of each reader’s worth. Robinson’s text is loaded with child appeal (“When everyone thinks you’re a pest. / When everyone is too busy to help. / You matter”); kid-level humor (“Even if you are really gassy. / You matter”); and profound observations (“Sometimes you feel lost and alone. / But you matter”). The repetition of the titular phrase is extremely effective; by book’s end, you can’t help but believe it. Striking acrylic and collage illustrations take us on a compressed journey through time and space. We meet creatures from Earth’s distant past (fish walking out of a primordial sea; dinosaurs) and then head out into space, where a meteor hurtles toward Earth (“If you have to start all over again…”). Still in space, we move to the present, with an astronaut, a Black woman, holding a photo of a child and gazing longingly toward Earth, where (as we see after the page-turn) her child is missing her (“Sometimes someone you love says goodbye”). The book comes to rest in a vibrant city, one full of color and movement and of people “old and young,” and wraps up with a scene of promise and possibility, as a young boy gazes out his window at the busy world outside and, one feels, the future.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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