4 out of 4 stars
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If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or someone who works with young children, I heartily recommend Your You by Kristin Obermire. This utterly charming, colorful, picture book is truly delightful in every way. This is not surprising. Obermire is both a mother and a former teacher. She knows what appeals to young children. Better still, she knows how to engage the interest of a young child, enabling the child to learn while having fun.
Your You is not your typical storybook. There isn’t really a plotline in the traditional sense. Rather, it is more like a verbal “Where’s Waldo?” And it is this quality that makes Your You such a fantastic book for young children. The book is filled with colorful illustrations that are striking in their attention to detail. Each of these illustrations is preceded by text that describes the picture using rich vocabulary. This allows the reader to ask a young child, “Where’s the girl in the striped pants? Can you point to the fountain? Show me all the butterflies!” Young children adore this sort of interaction, and it is what helps them develop a love of reading.
Furthermore, the text is in rhyming verse with a musical cadence. There was literally nothing I disliked about this book. Even the pages that have only text are colorful and appealing to the eye. The book is also exceptionally well-edited. I did not find a single typo or grammatical error in it, which brings me to a rather amusing point. When I first saw the title of the book, it looked wrong to me. Shouldn’t “Your You” more properly be “You’re You”? Well, yes . . . if you are wanting to say, “You are you.” But that is not what Obermire’s book is saying. And this is the loveliest element in a book filled with appealing features.
The early part of the book, inviting a child to find various details in the accompanying illustrations, is simply laying the groundwork for the climax of the book, which is that every single person on earth has unique qualities that make him or her special. And not only is everyone physically unique, but everyone has a special, individual personality, too. This is the heart of Obermire’s message. “All over the world and all over town are pretty skin shades of black, white, and brown. The prettiest people on the inside, you’ll find, are those who are thoughtful, friendly, and kind” (location 25).
In presenting this message, Your You is not only inclusive of race, but sex, age, and even those with disabilities. It’s an uplifting message that builds a child’s self-esteem while encouraging respect for others. It’s a message that would make Fred Rogers proud: “If you ever feel less than or stumble or fall, remember your you is the prettiest of all” (location 29).
Your You deserves every single star of four out of four stars. I sincerely hope Obermire continues to write more quality children’s books. The world and today’s children need them.
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