Simple and heartfelt, the refrain of Caldecott Honoree Robinson’s poem speaks directly to readers: “You matter.” In a neat rhetorical twist, the line also refers to the Earth itself, whose evolutionary history flashes by in gently comic collages made with blocky forms and bold paint strokes. Early sea life darts beneath a blue wave, small quadrupeds emerge from the ocean, dinosaurs appear. Under Robinson’s broad gaze, everything in the cosmos has a part to play: whether a massive asteroid blazing Earthward (“If you fall down”) or the planet, revived, spinning serenely in space (“If you have to start all over again”), “You matter.” Human concerns recede in geological time, then come into focus as a brown-skinned astronaut orbits Earth while holding a photo of a child. A page turn shows the child back on Earth looking wistfully out an apartment window: “Sometimes, someone you love says goodbye.” Scenes shift; the view from the child’s apartment window moves in, from a busy city street to ants dining on park pigeons’ crumbs, and then pulls back to a child gazing out an airplane window at an antlike cityscape below. By seeing all life as intertwined—ancient and new, minuscule and gargantuan, “The first to go and the last.// The small stuff too small to see”—Robinson represents life as both interconnected and precious. It’s a profound thought expressed with singular focus and eloquence. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)
* "Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Using simple, lyrical text and expansive, colorful illustrations, Robinson assures readers that, no matter what difficulties they may encounter or how a person might feel, everyone matters...nonjudgmental and reassuring, this is a great choice for anyone experiencing a bad day." - Booklist
* "Simple and heartfelt, the refrain of Caldecott Honoree Robinson’s poem speaks directly to readers: “You matter." By seeing all life as intertwined—ancient and new, minuscule and gargantuan...Robinson represents life as both interconnected and precious. It’s a profound thought expressed with singular focus and eloquence." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Robinson follows up his acclaimed debut Another with more of his spirited illustrations and spare, reaffirming prose...Robinson conveys complex themes, hinting at the universality of emotions, while validating the individual emotional journey of young readers...VERDICT: An earnest message and charming illustrations grow more poignant under closer reading." - School Library Journal, starred review
* "Pairing concise, compassionate text with playful acrylic paint and collage illustrations, Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honoree Christian Robinson (Another and Last Stop on Market Street) offers heartfelt affirmations to "anyone who isn't sure if they matter"and maybe even to anyone who is...Authentic and plainly profound, You Matter is a captivating, empowering picture book, but it's also unvarnished fun. "Old and young./ The first to go and the last," anyone can find connection and enjoyment in Robinson's positive outlook on life." - Shelf Awareness, starred review
PreS-Gr 1—Robinson follows up his acclaimed debut Another with more of his spirited illustrations and spare, reaffirming prose. From "the small stuff too small to see," viewed by a young girl peering through a microscope, Robinson depicts the perspectives of many creatures and people. Robinson's cut paper illustrations depict a timeline of existence through prehistoric times, through space, and finally in a contemporary, urban setting. Each spread contains small details that link one scene to the next, emphasizing his message of connectivity. Robinson captures sentiments many young readers are familiar with ("when everyone thinks you're a pest," "the first to go and the last") and repeats the titular phrase throughout the book as an uplifting mantra. Robinson conveys complex themes, hinting at the universality of emotions, while validating the individual emotional journey of young readers. The choice of characters and settings work seamlessly to convey the passage of time and the endurance of his message of resilience and the significance of how we all relate and contribute to the world around us.VERDICT An earnest message and charming illustrations grow more poignant under closer reading. Highly recommended.—Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library
Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.
After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.
Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)