I Am Every Good Thing


Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James present a powerful picture book mantra for every child in I Am Every Good Thing. From asserting that [I am] powerful and full of light‘ or ‘one eye open, one eye closed‘ while ‘plotting out those far-off places/ I have yet to go- but will’ this is a call to action, to possibilities!

In an era where we are reconciling, facing up to, and recognising injustice, especially racial, this book demands that every reader recognises his/ her worth and opportunity. Yet it is also a reminder to the adult reader that every child demands the same opportunity and we have a duty to enable this fairly.

Derrick Barnes’ text is lyrical, inspiring, devout and informed. When he offers ‘I am tight hugs, a hand/ to hold, a shoulder to cry/ on- if you have to./ I hope you never have to./ I am here’ we feel and know it. Meanwhile, Gordon C. James’ pictures are tonally empathetic, lush and glorious.

Bookwagon urges readers of all ages to read and know and share I Am Every Good Thing. What a beautiful, necessary book!

Kirkus Prize winner

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I Am Every Good Thing

Derrick Barnes  Gordon C. James


I Am Every Good Thing for [I] am ‘a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader‘. This powerful picture book is a call to step forward and know the power within. Thereafter Derrick Barnes harnesses a similar message to that within Standing On Her Shoulders or Songs for Our Sons, of values, self- confidence and self- worth.
 Derrick Barnes is acclaimed for his novels including King of the Classroom that like this inspirational picture book, seeks to motivate and empower young readers. Therefore, he reminds us that ‘[I] make the world go round’, get ‘right back on my feet again‘,  am ‘a sponge‘ and ‘want it all‘. While the words are explosive, the pictures from Gordon C. James are magnificent, painterly and empathetic.
In addition to the call, Derrick Barnes’ text can be read as a mantra against those who seek to undermine or disable. Therefore, our readers are reminded that ‘I am not what they might call me,/ and I will not answer to any name/ that is not my own. I am what I say I am.‘. We live in an era of growing consciousness and awareness of inequalities and injustice. Thereafter, this picture book speaks to people of all ages, classes and colours, but especially the underrepresented.
Bookwagon recommends I Am Every Good Thing as a gift, as a bedside read and as a constant reminder. Furthermore, this title is recommended as a book to share in school discussions and assemblies.



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