Through repetition and engagingly complementary illustrations, Whoever You Are drives home the point that we are all different, and yet entirely the same where it counts.
A book like this, written by an eminent Australian author such as Fox, couldn't come at a more crucial time.
You may or may not have noticed (or may or may not agree), but things are happening. Both here and overseas, there are angry rumblings about various cultures, religions, skin colours, beliefs etc. Heck, there are genocidal wars going on all over the world.
The reason I mention the obvious (and please excuse my brief time atop a soap box here), is because the message in this book is hardly new. In fact, this book is a re-print from that which was originally published in 1997 -- but apparently it hasn't gotten through to enough people yet, considering the (subjectively frightening) state of affairs around the world.
What I particularly love about this book is that it doesn't sugar coat the fact that we are all different in many ways. But this book isn't about celebrating differences (which is a wonderful subject in and of itself).
This particular book is about the fact that, despite the infinite differences, we are the same where it matters most; in smiles, hearts, blood and tears. The book is poetic, though non-rhyming (my personal preference), and strong.
My son is only three, but he has already begun to form an understanding that there are a multitude of cultures that differ on both a micro level (home to home), and macro level (country to country).
Whoever You Are will assist me, as a parent, to nurture the early roots of empathy beginning to form within my son -- the ones that are necessary to turn a wide-eyed child into a well-informed adult who thrives through kindness and understanding in a globalised, diverse and richly varied world.
Title: Whoever You Are
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Leslie Straub
Publisher: Scholastic, $15.99
Publication Date: 1 July 2015
For ages: 3 - 6
Type: Picture Book