Once I dreamed I swam / the ocean / and saw everything deep, cool / and was part of the waves. / I swam on by the people / onshore / hollering, / 'A girl like you needs to / stay out of the water / and be dry / like everyone else.'
Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews's distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.-- "Journal"
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About the Author
Angela Johnson is an award-winning poet and children's author with more than forty books to her credit. She began her writing career in 1989 with the publication of a picture book called Tell Me a Story, Mama, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio.
Nina Crews is a critically acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. She uses photographs and photocollages to create energetic stories about young children. Two of her recent books, The Neighborhood Mother Goose and Below were ALA Notable selections. She is the daughter of children's book authors Donald Crews--Freight Train; Truck; Ten Black Dots; Shortcut and Ann Jonas--Round Trip; The Quilt; Color Dance. Nina is a graduate of Yale University, where she received a BA in art. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.
A book to inspire the next diverse generation of girls to keep working toward breaking glass ceilings no matter how often the world tells them, 'A girl like you needs to stop.' Johnson and Crews are seasoned talents whose collaboration here shines. Johnson's spare words of encouragement are in harmony with Crews' large double-page spreads blending photos of black and brown girls into a collaged dream world. Each of three girls is a star in her own dream only to hear people shouting in the background that what she wants simply isn't possible. The illustrations show the three meeting on an urban playground and then encouraging other neighborhood girls of many races to join them in standing up to the doubters. There is much that Johnson doesn't say that Crews uses pictures to illustrate. Adult readers may need to help children understand what is taking place in the story, at the heart of which is the power of play. Each girl is seen using her imagination to make her reality 'better than the dream.' Illustrating this, a dozen girls in ebullient dress-up pose on the beach, all unapologetically themselves. A final spread allows each depicted girl to tell readers a little bit about herself--a sweet touch that drives home this reminder that girls should be supported in exploring their limitless imaginations, regardless of the naysayers. A great way to spark real-world conversations with other girls 'like me.'--Kirkus Reviews-- "Journal"
It seems not even the sky's the limit for the imaginative, adventurous, inventive girls depicted in this inspirational picture book. Johnson's upbeat text, paired with Crews's innovative, exuberant photo collages, delivers a message of encouragement and empowerment. 'I always dream, ' reads the opening line, and the accompanying illustration presents close-ups of three young women of color, their eyes closed, against a patterned background of blues and purples. Subsequent spreads show each girl recounting fantastic dreams, which position them as superheroes 'in Supergirl underwear . . . in flowing scarves and a cowgirl hat.' They fly, stand atop tall buildings, and dive deep into oceans; but most importantly, they resist others' warnings, denials, and chastisement about 'a girl like you.' As the story goes on, more young women join the scenes, offering an ever-broadening depiction of girlhood; the closing spread, featuring headshots of each of the participants, coupled with her own words about her dreams, grounds this interpretation in the lived realities of real children. This is not trite girl-power pablum; it's a rallying cry for girls to reject limitations others might place on them and their dreams.--starred, The Horn Book Magazine-- "Journal"
Poet Johnson (Heaven) bridges fanciful aspirations and attainable goals in this inclusive portrait of girlhood. 'I always dream' opens the airy, free-verse narrative. In collages superimposing crisp photos against swirling abstract backdrops, Crews (Seeing into Tomorrow) portrays a girl flying through the air in a red cape, another walking atop skyscrapers, and a third swimming in the ocean, becoming 'part of the waves, ' while onshore onlookers holler, 'A girl like you needs to/ stay out of the water/ and be dry, / like everyone else.' The collaborators bring the tone down to earth as the kids react to unseen naysayers who discourage their dreams. In affirmations of their spirit of curiosity and adventure, the girls don vibrant clothing and funky hats as they skip down city streets and frolic by the ocean, always 'thinking/ way up/ high/ and making/ everything/ better than/ the dream.' The book concludes with a roundup of the subjects and personal statements about their personalities, favorite things, and ambitions, inviting readers' own self-reflections. A blithe celebration of individuality, guts, and sisterhood.--Publishers Weekly-- "Journal"
Black girls lead the way in this story about defining oneself and making the world a better place. Three girls take turns sharing their dreams about flying high, standing tall, and being free. Each girl's dream is scuttled by people telling her that 'a girl like you' should not be doing the amazing things she does in her dreams, that 'a girl like you' should be like everyone else. 'Once I dreamed I swam/the ocean/and saw everything deep, /cool/ and was part of the waves. I swam on by the people/onshore hollering, A girl like you needs to/stay out of the water/and be dry, /like everyone else.' The three boldly take charge of their dreams. They gather the capes, hats, and scarves that represent them and expand their visions to include other girls as they proudly take up space in the world, sure of their value and confident in their power to create real-world change. Crews's signature photo-collage style is the perfect artistic choice for this book, using photos of real girls and beautiful cityscapes in combination with recurring shapes, textures, and symbols that tie the dreamy spreads in with the real-world ones. VERDICT An excellent addition for all collections.--School Library Journal-- "Journal"