Sam, the main character in I Am Sam, written and illustrated by Rodney James, has always known he was different from the rest of his family. He couldn’t fly as early as his siblings and was much larger than them. Even though Sam knew his family loved him despite his differences, he felt that he needed to find out who he really was and embarked on a journey of self- discovery. Along the way Sam met many animals - owls, lizards, dogs, turtles, elephants, and pelicans - who all tried to help him figure out who he was. With the help of his animal friends, will Sam discover his true self? Will his family accept him just how he is?
I Am Sam by Rodney James is a picture book that is both thought-provoking and informational. I love the way this book is full of life lessons that are easy for children to understand. The book’s most prominent lesson was the importance of acceptance, taught through the love Sam’s family had for him and through Sam embracing who he was rather than trying to hide his differences to be like the rest of his family. Not only does this teach children to be kind and accepting towards people who are different than themselves, it also teaches them to accept themselves for who they are and not try to change themselves to fit in with the people around them. There were two things that made this book unique from most other children's picture books. First was the pictures, which were very realistic-looking compared to the usual bright colored cartoon-like pictures found in many other picture books. Second, the author included informational pages at the end of his book which provide photographs, scientific information, and fun facts about all the animals Sam met on his journey. This is a great resource for readers who are interested in learning about animals. I believe that I am Sam has a message of acceptance that will resonate with young readers. Sam’s story of self-discovery will leave readers thinking about what makes them unique and even asking themselves “who am I?”. I would recommend this book to young readers ages 5-10.