I'm Not. by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Robert Weinstock, is a sweet story with a humorously embedded message about appreciating people’s different abilities and strengths. As she looks at her friend, who is blasting off into outer space in a rocket ship (a.k.a. a garbage can), an unnamed alligator-resembling narrator says: “Sometimes I wonder if my friend Evelyn is from Mars.” We’re told that “she’s not one single bit ordinary” and “she’s a little mysterious” too (we see Evelyn hanging from a tree branch, pretending to be an apple … a poison apple). In fact, “if Evelyn was a book, you’d read her all night under the covers to see what happened next.” When the narrator compares herself to her outgoing, imaginative friend, she can’t help feeling, well, rather ordinary. Our narrator goes on to describe her friend’s many talents, which include being a great decorator, a rebel artist, and a trendy fashionista. Weinstock’s droll illustrations accentuate the humor in Smallcomb’s text (we see Evelyn proudly wearing a lampshade, mixing band-aids and pearls with panache, and declaring that “sweatbands are making a comeback”). Meanwhile, to all these razzle-dazzle qualities, the narrator glumly says, “I’m not,” while wearing a brown bag on her head.
Just when you’re beginning to wonder how these two polar opposites can be friends, Smallcomb slyly turns the tables on us and the narrator’s refrain, “I’m not,” gains a positive association. Evelyn confesses that she’s “stinky at spelling.” “I’m not,” says the narrator. Evelyn is also “crummy at karate,” scared of the dark, and “the absolute worst at making cookies.” “I’m not,” says the narrator, looking confident and more self-assured. Then Evelyn admits that what she needs most is a best friend—“a friend who is always by her side, through thick and thin, a true-blue friend.” She wonders, “Is there anyone in the whole wide world like that.” To which, both friends exuberantly respond, “I am! I am! I am!”
Are you familiar with I’m Not.? Can you recommend other books featuring best friends?