I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! – written by Alissa Holder & Zulekha Holder-Young, illustrated by Nneka Myers


    I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! – written by Alissa Holder & Zulekha Holder-Young, illustrated by Nneka Myers, Flamingo Books, 9780593206607, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? This book really shows and celebrates empowerment and Black pride while promoting self-confidence in all readers. Though Ayaan sometimes feels worried and doesn’t always feel happy, repeating a mantra with his mom helps boost his confidence on his way to school. She reminds him that he is smart, he is blessed, and he can do anything, having him repeat it and then shout it again and again. Over time he begins to feel and believe it himself, though his negative feelings are still validated and not dismissed. Ayaan’s mom has dreadlocks, which I rarely see in picture books. On their way to school, Ayaan and his mom pass people of all races and different family types. The digital illustrations offer bright colors and a cheerful feel, as well as much of the detail in the story. 

Anything you did not like about the book. The message of the book is essentially the whole story. 

To whom would you recommend this book? This is an empowering story for any adult to read multiple times with young children, repeating “I am smart, I am blessed, I can do anything” with them. I would also recommend it to young children struggling with feeling good about going to school. Read-alike with I’m Gonna Push Through! (Jasmyn Wright) and I am Enough (Grace Byers). 

Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians, religious educators

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

Date of review: Jan. 24, 2021

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