Jared Collins’ I Am as I Am follows a girl with big dreams and her mother who encourages her to stay true to herself, aiming to set a positive example for young readers.
The book, told in rhyming stanzas, opens with a girl and her mother out for a walk under the stars. The girl tells her mother, “There is nothing in this world I don’t want to become.” Her mother replies that if she remains the person she’s always been at heart, all of her dreams will come true. She also reminds the girl to remember to keep family close, and the girl promises that through all her future adventures, she “will never let go.”
They continue talking about the important things in life—humility, passion, and caring for others—until the girl concludes “I can as I can / Because I will always believe I am as I am.” Understated illustrations of the mother and daughter walking around their farm at night complement this simple, quiet story.
While conveying an important message of self-knowledge and empowerment, the narrative is muddled by puzzling diction, incorrect punctuation, and words that seem chosen to create a rhyme, rather than convey ideas clearly. In one passage, the narrator states: “The girl smiles and stands, as straight as a dye/ Her posture is perfect as she looks at the sky.” The use of “dye” in this context is baffling and seems chosen simply to rhyme with “sky.” Yet another page reads: “Strength is the rhythm, (making our bed),/ Attacking everything with passion,/ and with a clear head.” It’s not clear what “(making our bed)” has to do with “rhythm.” Such problems will likely stymie young readers as they try to decipher the story, line by line.
Collins has a wonderful message to impart, but, unfortunately, I Am as I Am requires polishing with an eye toward simpler, clearer writing before it can attract a wide audience.
Also available as an ebook.