7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #552:
Featuring Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

h1 September 17th, 2017 by jules

(Click to enlarge spread)


When I was a child, I used to wonder about things like souls and my very identity. That is, I wondered what made me, me and what it would be like if I were born as someone else. Hell, I’m 45 and still wonder about these things sometimes.

Paige Britt’s Why Am I Me? (Scholastic, August 2017), illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, is a contemplative book that gets at the heart of these questions — without, that is, providing any pat answers or, really, any answers at all. The illustrations feature a busy cityscape, a boy and a girl noticing each other on the subway and wondering, “why am I me … and not you?” The children look out to all the people bustling around them and wonder why it is they are who they are and “not someone else entirely.” They ponder these questions as they pass parks, people making music, people playing sports, and more. In the end, they meet and say hi to one another, and it’s clear a friendship has begun.

Cool blues dominate the palette here, and Alko and Qualls play with star and circle motifs throughout the book. (Anyone familiar with their work knows circles appear often in their illustrations.) As seen on the cover, the children appear to even fuse at the book’s close, as if a human Venn diagram — with one shared celestial object for an eye. In the end, their me questions become a we question, and it will leave readers wondering about commonalities and community.

Here’s another spread …


(Click to enlarge spread)



* * * * * * *

WHY AM I ME? Copyright © 2017 by Paige Britt. Illustrations © 2017 by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Scholastic Press, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Starting Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War I Finally Won with my girls.

2) Reading a galley of Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down in one night. So good.

3) Cracking open a copy of M. T. Anderson’s newest novel.

4) Feeling the edge of Fall in the air.

5) Watching Firefly with the girls (my second time, but their first … they’re finally old enough for it).

6) Collaborations.


That’s what I’ve got this week. You can take my empty seventh slot and make your kicks go to eight!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #552:
Featuring Selina Alko and Sean Qualls”

  1. Oh, Why Am I Me, could easily be a prompt for poetry. Will be buying for the library.
    Jules, the books on your list sound interesting. Will check them out.
    My kicks:
    1. Thinking about changing what I teach in fourth and fifth grade library.
    2. Cooler mornings.
    3. Autumn cleaning.
    4. Kinder comment: ” Librarians like owls because they say quiet.
    5. Reading.
    6. Connecting.
    7. Friends.

  2. Good morning, Imps! Hello, Selina and Sean! That book looks AWESOME.

    Jules: I hope the coming week is FILLED with kicks for you!

    Jone: Connecting, reading, friends – great kicks!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Information
    2) Clarification
    3) Memorization
    4) Speculation
    5) Rationalization
    6) Creation
    7) Determination

  3. Jone: Great point about the book. I hadn’t even thought of that. Also, yay kinders!

    LW: My eighth kick TODAY can be that we watched Wonder Woman last night, and it was pretty great to see all those all-female, all-bad-ass action scenes.

    And may you always be determined.

  4. What a great book! I have always wondered about the lives of others glimpsed through open windows or seen as you drive by in a car or in a train – are they having the same thoughts, or better ones? Would I be different if I lived that in that apartment instead of my house?

    Jules – yay for Firefly with your girls!

    Jone – here’s to cooler mornings and the coming rain.

    LW – Determination is definitely a word that comes to mind when I think of you.

    My quick kicks:
    1) Coffee
    2) Sunday morning yoga.
    3) Work
    4) Negotiations
    5) Compromise
    6) Watched “Days of Heaven” this weekend. My goodness but Sam Sheperd and Richard Gere and Brooke Adams were so young and beautiful, and beautifully filmed.
    7) Listening to the Ry Cooder soundtrack to Paris, Texas this weekend.
    7.5) Daisy, sweet Daisy. She can’t take long walks anymore due to a bum knee/leg, so now we’re learning new tricks to keep her mind sharp. She just learned Roll Over.

    Have a great week Imps!

  5. Rachel: Hugs to sweet Daisy dog! Love that you’re keeping her entertained and her mind agile!

    Jules and Rachel: I am nothing if not determined. 🙂

    Jules: Those were good fight scenes.

  6. Oh, poor Daisy, Rachel! Hugs to her. I hope she’s feeling better soon.

  7. LW – she likes cookies and she likes attention, so its a win-win situation.

    Jules – thanks for the well-wishes for Daisy! Bummer that it is, part of it is just her getting older. I’m right there with her. 😉

  8. Oh WOW so nice to be featured this week, I love how you describe our characters coming together at the end in a human Venn diagram. How perfectly lovely.

    May I share my kicks?
    1) getting our fourth starred review for Why Am I Me? From Shelf Awareness. Squeee!!!!
    2) catching the middle grade panel at Brooklyn Book Festival with Sharon Draper, Victoria Jameson and Holly Magee!!!
    3) day-long film shoot with Sean by KidLit TV and then selling an original painting from Why Am I Me? to Julie Gribble!
    4) Story time with our Park Slope, Brooklyn community at Community Bookstore yesterday- with some help reading aloud by our daughter, Ginger
    5) celebrating the book’s official launch with friends afterward at Skylark Bar !!!
    6) en route to Rhode Island for NEIBA Booksellers convention and receiving free coffee from Dunkin Donuts… mmmm
    7) 1/2 way through Matylda Bright and Tender and looking forward to reading The Hate U Give next
    8) watching an ep of Crazy Ex Girlfriend with Sean late Saturday night, just the dose comic relief we needed during this crazy whirl-wind of a work week!

  9. Hi Selina! That’s definitely a whirlwind week but sounds so good. Have fun in Rhode Island. JUST saw that The Hate U Give was nominated for a Kirkus Prize. Yay!

  10. Thanks for the lovely write-up on Why Am I Me?! Glad to know I’m not the only one who is still wondering what makes me, me.

    Would love to share my kicks for the week, so here goes:

    1. Being on 7-Imp, naturally.
    2. Discovering a new bakery in town and visiting it twice in 2 days. Yum.
    3. Coffee (always).
    4. Ditto to Selina’s kick on getting a fourth starred review.
    5. Celebrating the book’s release with family and friends at BookPeople on Saturday.
    6. Reading The Hate U Give before bed each night.
    7. Finishing You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me in one looong sitting on Sunday.
    8. Going for a long walk with my hubby and noticing a slight coolness in the air.

  11. Hi Paige! Good kicks. Books, coffee, walks. That’s a good week. I even have TWO new novels (as of today), which I’m excited about, as otherwise I’ve been in a kind of novel-reading slump. … Thanks for visiting!

    I hope everyone is having a good week.

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