STARRED REVIEW
October 09, 2018

Rock What Ya Got

By Kerascoët & Samantha Berger
Review by
Children will learn to love their features in Samantha Berger's rollicking meditation on self-esteem, Rock What Ya Got.
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“Once upon a blank piece of paper, where anything could happen” begins Samantha Berger’s rollicking meditation on self-esteem, Rock What Ya Got. Soon after an artist picks up a pencil and begins to draw, a lively, jubilant girl named Viva with a mop of frizzy hair appears on the page. When the artist―not quite satisfied with her creation―decides to erase and start over, defiant Viva grabs the pencil and announces, “Excuse me, Lady Artist, ma’am, but I like me the way I am.”

Thus begins a spirited back-and-forth between the illustrator and her subject, as the artist tries to adjust various things: first Viva’s hair, then her body and finally the background of the pages. Illustrations by Kerascoët (a pseudonym for a French husband-and-wife art team) energize this artistic spat, showing humorous alternative versions of Viva as a princess, ballerina, weightlifter, gymnast and mermaid. Meanwhile, Viva advocates for her original self, saying, “Be your best you and rock what ya got. Don’t let anyone say what you’re not.”

Observant readers will notice striking similarities between Viva and the artist, who finally realizes that Viva’s message, “Rock What Ya Got,” is something she wrote long ago as a child―and something she must never again forget.

Berger, whose many books include Crankenstein and Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry, delivers a vital message in a lighthearted way. This creative contemplation about both the artistic process and one’s sense of self-worth packs the perfect visceral and visual punch for young readers.

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Rock What Ya Got

Rock What Ya Got

By Kerascoët & Samantha Berger
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316561501

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