I’m Not

Written by Pam Smallcomb, Illustrated by Robert Weinstock

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2010

Sometimes I wonder if my friend Evelyn is from Mars. She’s not one single bit ordinary.

The plot in a nutshell: A girl thinks of all the ways that she and her best friend are different

The main character of this story is a brownish alligator girl with a pink bow. Her friend, Evelyn, is a greenish alligator girl. Our nameless main character lists off all the positive characteristics that she doesn’t share with Evelyn. Evelyn is mysterious and up on fashion trends. Evelyn is exciting and wonderful at decorating. Evelyn can pull off being a circus performer, an Antarctic explorer and Queen of England. The main character is not any of those things. But Evelyn points out that she is stinky at spelling and the main character is not. Evelyn is also scared of the dark and no good at making cookies. Evelyn says that what she wants most is a best friend and our character says that’s who she is.

This story of friendships is sure to strike a chord with kids who compare themselves with their own friends (and siblings). Author Pam Smallcomb does a very good job showing us our character’s progression. She begins feeling small in comparison to Evelyn, moves through feeling proud of the ways that she comes in favorably in comparison and ends with the realization that friendship rises above these types of evaluation. It’s a good lesson and a fun way to share it.

Are we sure that polka dots on the windows count as wonderful decorator?

Are we sure that polka dots on the windows count as wonderful decorator?

The illustrations, from Robert Weinstock, dial up the fun factor for this book. On the acknowledgements page, Mr. Weinstock notes that the “illustrations were not rendered in watercolor or woodcut…but were super fun to make anyway.” With their round little bodies and protruding teeth, it’s hard not to think of James Marshall’s wonderful George and Martha characters. But these two girls have their own distinct personalities and the artwork shows us all the quirky ways they learn to enjoy their differences and celebrate their friendship.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that everyone brings their unique talents and personalities into a relationship. The best relationships find ways to enjoy them all.

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