You Matter by Christian Robinson
Review copy from Simon & Schuster
Once again, Robinson delivers a picture book that, with loving kindness and visual diversity, connects. You Matter connects readers to the story, and characters within the story to each other, circling back again for the words we all need to hear - and say - once again: you matter. I have no doubt that reading this book, alone or with others, will leave readers feeling and knowing that we are all connected to each other and connected to the world. And in this one important idea, it is clear that you matter!
With a dedication that reads, "For anyone who isn't sure if they matter. You do," this picture book is the perfect read for those times when you aren't sure if you matter. Robinson begins with the "stuff to small to see" and an illustration of a girl peering into a microscope, moving on to those "who swim with the tide and those who don't," and "the first to go and the last," a refrain that will be repeated, ending with, "You matter." When a mosquito bites a T-Rex on the tail, just out of reach to swat, and all the other dinosaurs are too busy to help shoo it away (in the pink sky of the background, meteors can be seen rocketing toward Earth), the refrain is the same, "You matter."
Telescoping out into space, Robinson delivers a breathtaking pairing of words and images. A two-page illustration of a meteor shooting through dense, black space and the words, "If you fall down," is followed by a two page illustration of the Earth on the recto, more black space on the verso, and the words, "If you have to start over again," reminding readers that something as enormous, old and important as the Earth itself has had to start over again. Robinson take the edge off this moment of enormity with the next spread, the flaming sun, Saturn in the distance, and the words, "Even if you are really gassy. You matter." Before heading back to Earth, the tone of the text shifts as readers see a black astronaut in space, looking down at Earth, a picture of a child in her hand. The final pages of the book remind readers that, even when they have to say goodbye or are far away, they matter. For these words, a child can be seen in an apartment window, the same child from the photograph, a toy rocket in his hand. Feeling lost and alone, young or old, you matter. The final pages repeat the refrain, "The first to go and the last. The stuff too small to see. You matter."
Robinson's illustrations build a narrative, with each page turn making a connection, the final pages of the book connecting people to each other, people to the nature and the earth, small images on one page becoming the focus of the next. While the words and the illustrations reveal intelligence, effort and thoughtfulness, reading You Matter, immersing yourself in the story, is an effortless, uplifting experience.