I Am Every Good Thing: Gordon C. James's 2021 BGHB Picture Book Honor Speech

I’d like to thank my wife, Ingrid, and my children, Astrid and Gabriel, for giving me the time and space to do my best work; Derrick Barnes for writing such an important and timely story; and Nancy Paulsen and her team for giving us a place to create something that pays tribute to our boys. I’d also like to thank my literary agent, Regina Brooks, for all her support and hard work through this project.

[Read Horn Book reviews of the 2021 BGHB Picture Book winners.]

I Am Every Good Thing is important, especially now, when our boys are told by society that they are not special, that they are bad or dangerous for even existing. When Derrick sent me the manuscript, I read it, and it spoke to me as representing the breadth and beauty of these boys. I set out on the difficult task of representing an entire diaspora of kids in a single children’s book. On the pages, we have boys from the city. We have boys from the country. They come from different income levels and family structures. Some of them look like they may not even be from this country. Maybe they’re navigating America as immigrants. I wanted to do that because I wanted as many boys as possible to see themselves in this book. Readers who may not be of the culture also need to see each of the boys as a unique and special person with hopes, dreams, goals, and fears. They need to feel the humanity of these children and see just some of the many ways in which these young people express their excellence. I Am Every Good Thing celebrates our boys as the awesome, excellent, athletic, brilliant, curious, strong, joyful, and sensitive people that those who love them have always known them to be.

Thank you to the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards committee for naming our labor of love, I Am Every Good Thing, an honor book for 2021.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read author Derrick Barnes's BGHB speech here. For more on the 2021 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB21. Read more from The Horn Book by and about Gordon C. James.

Gordon C. James

Gordon C. James is the illustrator of the 2021 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Honor book I Am Every Good Thing, written by Derrick Barnes.

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