Title: A Boy Like You and Me
Author: Eva Maria Schwarz-Pretner
Illustrated by: Fatima Aldarmaki
Genre: Children’s picture book
A young ordinary boy–“like you and me”–learns that he has the extraordinary ability to wish for things that come true. He wishes for a neck as long as a giraffe so he can see past the tall woman sitting in front of him at the movie theater and asks for wings like a butterfly so he can fly to the park more quickly than the bus will take him there. But with his improved abilities, will he truly be content with who he is?
Eva Maria Schwarz-Pretner tackles a significant life lesson for young children to learn in A Boy Like You and Me: that no matter what, it is important to be content with who you are. This is a great book to discuss identity and self-esteem with elementary-aged students between kindergarten and second grade in helping to assure kids that they are special just the way they are.
The message could have been more powerful if it had been clearer how the boy arrives at the lesson of the story. At the end of the book, he states the lesson, but he does not elaborate at how he comes to that conclusion. For young children, it would be more meaningful if the boy would share more about how he is proud of who he is and what he looks like, in both his similarities and differences with others. Perhaps in sharing about the boy’s newfound pride the lesson could be more inclusive to children who may not look like those around them.
A Boy Like You and Me would make a perfect read-aloud, whether in the classroom with a group of students or at home with the family. There are moments when the author interacts with the reader by posing questions. The book reads almost like a fairy tale or fable. The writing is simple and great for children, and the story flows smoothly from scene to scene. The boy, while seemingly “ordinary,” is also very likable, and children will be able to identify with his curious nature and good humor in approaching problems they have themselves encountered.
Children will also enjoy the magic element to the story. The idea of making wishes to turn into animals is both fun and funny, and it will surely make children laugh and imagine what they would wish for if they had the chance. The cute, vibrant illustrations also add to the appeal of the story. The brightly colored drawings, which have the soft approach of watercolors, are eye-catching, especially the full-spread images of the boy as he gains wings and even fins.
Perfect for young children, A Boy Like You and Me is more than just a fun tale about an imaginative boy who makes fantastic wishes. It encourages kids to be happy with who they are through an engaging narrative.
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