What you need to know:
• I’m Here is a touching picture book about what it feels like to be different.
• According to the author, it was written to foster a greater understanding of children with autism.
• The book includes a link to autismcenter.org which provides support to children and families living with autism.
• Peter H. Reynolds is also the illustrator of the popular Judy Moody series.
• There is nothing in the story itself to indicate to the reader that it has anything to do with autism.
Sweet Book Summary:
The expressive illustrations and carefully chosen words perfectly capture the emotions of the children in the story. On the opening two-page spread, the playground scene is filled with smiling, playful children. It seems like the picture of happiness. The text brings the drawing to life with the words: “Can you hear it? Voices. Splashes upon splashes of sound.”, and suddenly it’s as if we can hear their laughter and their shouts of joy. As readers turn the page, they still see the children on the left hand side, but in stark contrast, on the right side is one boy who is seated alone. In the following pages, readers get to know this boy. With only a few words and simple gestures, Reynolds manages to communicate the boy’s feelings. While the things that make him happy, a falling leaf or a plain piece of paper, seem different from what the other children enjoy, it doesn’t mean that the two can never come together. When one child leaves the group to join the boy who stands apart, readers are reminded that under the right circumstances, even those who are different can make real connections.
There are so many special details in this book. I love the soothing, warm and cheerful colors, the strategic use of white space, the way the words change size for emphasis, the subtle indications of motion, the way the boy emerges from the paper airplane with such exhilaration, and most of all, the peaceful look on his face in the end. It is an excellent story to share with a group or a classroom, as it will encourage readers to empathize with and accept those who seem different. At first glance, “I’m here” may appear to be as short and simple as its title, but once you turn the pages you will find a memorable book with enormous value.
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