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About the Author
Ashok Banker is widely acknowledged for pioneering English-language genre fiction in India, having authored over 80 books in various categories. As a neurodivergent (AuDHD) and non-binary writer, they are passionate about inclusivity and representation. Their debut picture book I am Brown won the Bank Street College Prize, made the Book Trust Great Books list, and was translated into several languages. They currently live with their family in Southern California.
"Banker and Prabhat have created an exuberant celebration of brownness in a child-sized picture book context. The presentation of the text is simple; it is a list poem that begins with the titular declaration of brown identity. Through the book, we see a little brown girl with unforgettable flying pigtails, as well as a rich array of brown kid figures, demonstrating love and friendship, occupations, national origins, languages, facial hair or the lack of it, eye color, homes, interests, food preferences, and clothes. Two-thirds of the way through the book, we find a spread with examples of relationships that commonly exist in communities--a friend and partner, a teacher, a driver, a guru, and more. Then we return to two final ways in which difference can be celebrated: religion and accomplishments. For the former, the author shows a variety of places of worship; the latter includes drawing a picture, building a building, and running a company (and a race). In the bottom right corner of the penultimate spread, we turn the page to reveal a triumphant set of words: "I wrote this book." The final spread speaks directly to the reader, stating: "I am YOU." The palette, brown-red-orange with vivid blue and green contrasts, infuses the whimsical art with warmth. This would be a good companion book to All the World by Liz Garton Scanlan." --Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)-- (2/18/2021 12:00:00 AM)
"This is a straightforward, unsubtle celebration of brown-skinned power, beauty, ability, and diversity. Clearly intended to counter the negative messages that dark-skinned children encounter early in their lives, the books bursts with love and energy, in the images and in the words. 'I am love, I am friendship, I am happiness.' The message continues, stating a vast range of professions, languages, religions, regions, homes, foods, and hobbies of brown-skinned people. The pages are packed with lively children and adults busy being their happy selves, highlighting--rather than homogenizing--diversity. Everyone's skin is roughly the same shade of brown, but beyond that, all manner of differences are presented as contributing to a world made exciting by variety. This collaboration warrants repeated reading with close attention to the visual details, as each pass will reveal delightful surprises. Pair with Yamile Saied Méndez's Where Are You From? (2019) and Whitney Stewart's What Do You Celebrate? Holidays and Festivals around the World (2019)."--Booklist-- (2/15/2020 12:00:00 AM)
"Beginning with a child sporting exuberant puffball pigtails and broadening into a community of brown-skinned children, the figures in this joyful picture book love the skin they're in. 'I am brown/ I am beautiful/ I am perfect, ' Banker writes in his picture book debut. The figures portrayed--in many modes of dress, including a business suit, a saree, and a salwar and a kameez--know that they exemplify love and friendship, can become anything (play vignettes include doctor, electrician, and prime minister), and do anything ('I design rocket ships' captions two kids flying paper airplanes). Of special interest are spreads that show the diversity of the figures' experiences through food eaten, activities enjoyed, and homes lived in. In one, children gather around a globe, pointing out continents where 'I come from'; another shows languages 'I speak' (among them Arabic, French, Tamil, and Urdu); and another states places where 'I pray' ('nowhere' is among the possibilities). Readers will take heart at the high spirits and unalloyed happiness that Prabhat (Ignore the Trolls) instills in her characters, almost all of whom are smiling or laughing."--Publishers Weekly-- (1/30/2020 12:00:00 AM)
"Brown children around the world celebrate their uniqueness and their ordinariness in this inclusive illustrated poem. The poem ranges from the outer ('I am brown / I am beautiful / I am perfect') to the inner ('I am love / I am friendship / I am happiness'); from titles ('I am a doctor / ... / an athlete / ... / a president') to actions ('I make art / I design rocket ships / ... / I solve crimes'). Together the text and accompanying pictures represent brown children in all their diversity. Each spread features a collection of children in various outfits and costumes who collectively or individually state where they come from (every continent except Antarctica), what languages they speak (a U.N. of tongues including Russian, Tamil, Chinese, and Arabic), what clothing they wear ('a shirt and a lungee'; 'a business suit'), what foods they eat (noodles, vindaloo, steak, tagliatelle, etc.), what they like to do, where they pray (or don't), and who they are ('your roommate / ... / your friend / ... / your teacher'). The global outlook is a refreshing corrective to often confining Western understandings. The final spread invites readers in with 'I am brown / I am amazing / I am YOU.' Prabhat's lovely, child-friendly artwork abounds in smiles and energy; the browns have a reddish undertone, and beige, blue-green, and orange-red patterns make for a warm palette. This message of the normalcy and joy of being brown is upbeat and uplifting.--Kirkus Reviews-- (1/16/2020 12:00:00 AM)