"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—Journal
"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—Journal
"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—Journal
I am brown. I am beautiful. I am perfect. I designed this computer. I ran this race. I won this prize. I wrote this book. A joyful celebration of the skin you're in—of being brown, of being amazing, of being you.
Ashok Banker is the bestselling author of more than 63 books which have sold more than 3.2 million copies in 21 countries and 61 languages. I Am Brown is his debut picture book.
Sandhya Prabhat is an independent animator and illustrator from India. She has published nearly a dozen picture books. She also animates videos and designs e-stickers.