I Am Enough
I Am Enough starts out with beautiful art and rhyming poetic stanzas. “Like the sun I’m here to shine./Like the voice I’m here to sing./Like the bird, I’m here to fly and soar high over everything.”
Byers compares growing to like a tree, standing like a mountain, being like time, and fighting like a champ. She compares pushing to like the wind, pulling to like a rope, but when it comes to rain, she compares it to pouring, dripping and falling. This sentence is the weakest in the entire book. “Like the rain, I’m here to pour and drip and fall until I’m full.” Falling until I’m full makes no sense. The art for that page shows two young girl s of color pushing and pulling a wagon filled with stuffed animals with a rain cloud overhead.
Then there’s one more stanza following the rain rhyme with the similar rhyme pattern, which suddenly switches to couplets (1.2) as opposed to stanzas (1, 2, 3, 4). This happens for only two pages, then there’s one more stanza, and then back to couplets until the end of the book. The switch from stanza to couplet and back again and again disrupts the flow of the poetry.
The art is stunning, especially the cover. Every illustration is of a young girl or girls, not a boy to be found in the entire book, although one or two girls might be transgender. There are girls in wheelchairs, with straight hair, curly hair, glasses, and one in a hijab headscarf—white, black, Asian, Latina, but not a single boy. In the new world of inclusion, this seems odd, especially when the flap copy reads, “I Am enough is an essential book for everyone.”
The sentiment of the story is lovely, especially in the following couplet: “I know that we don’t look the same/ our skin, our eyes, our hair, our frame./But that does not dictate our worth;/we both have places here on earth.”
The art is lovely. The idea of inclusion is lovely, so where are the boys? Is this a book inspired by the #MeToo movement? Is it a book about girl empowerment? If that’s what it’s trying to be, then it should say so. To leave out half the children of the world with no explanation doesn’t sit right with the parent of two loud daughters and one quiet son.
Boys are loud, strong, and aggressive, except when they’re not. Some are quiet, introverted, and sensitive. In a world that awards the extroverted leaders, those shyer boys also need to know that they are enough.