Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 5 to 8
- Grade: p to 3
Through the eyes of 10-year-old Benjamin Giroux, being odd is different, and different is a good thing. This is what the then fifth-grader hoped to convey in his poem, beginning every few sentences with "I am,” about what it is like to live with autism. Inspired by a school assignment, Benjamin’s raw and emotional words poured out onto the page, but when he feared they were not any good, his parents shared the poem with friends and family. Little did they know that it would go viral and end up inspiring thousands of strangers who identified with him to share their support. Now for the first time, Benjamin’s iconic poem "I Am Odd, I Am New," comes to life in this lovingly illustrated picture book with a foreword written by the National Autism Association. So whether you know the poem, or it is new to you, discover how Benjamin's honesty will reassure children of all ages that it's okay to be different.
About the authors
Benjamin Giroux is the author of the poem “I Am Odd, I Am New.” The poem, now also a picture book (I Am Odd, I Am New), has received a Kirkus Reviews starred review and was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. Benjamin is also an award-winning songwriter, was named poet laureate of Plattsburgh, New York, and has been the face of the National Autism Association’s antibullying campaign. He has been featured in the Huffington Post and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. His poem has been translated into several languages and made into a critically acclaimed music video, releasing in April 2022. Benjamin lives in upstate New York with his parents and pet snake, Monty.
Roz MacLean lives in beautiful Vancouver, BC where she balances her writing and illustration practice with supporting students with diverse needs at school. Roz is passionate about mental health, education, body positivity, self-compassion and inclusion of people with diverse abilities. These values are a constant theme in her creative work, embodied most vibrantly in her newest release, "The Body Book." As an educator, she believes that positive cultural change begins on an individual and emotional level with early education. When children learn to relate to themselves and their bodies with self-acceptance, love and care they will be better able to maintain positive mental and physical health as they navigate our society's problematic media landscape. Other children's books she has illustrated include Lucy's Tree, written by Helen Davidson, and Mommy's 26 Careers by Keegan Connor Tracy. Along with Violet's Cloudy Day, which Roz wrote and illustrated, these books explore socially conscious themes of connection to nature, feminism and the cultivation of positive mental health.
"Benjamin Giroux's goal when writing his poem was to have society understand that being odd is different, and different is a good thing."
“this illustrated book and its powerful message will be an invaluable resource for creative writing teachers. With unique clarity, it provides a child’s perspective of the world that will inspire genuine empathy in KS2 children reading this independently, or discussing it as a class in PSHE lessons.”
School Reading List
"A 10-year-old New York boy who was given a school assignment ended up touching the hearts of thousands after writing a moving poem that gives an inside look into his life with autism."
The Daily Mail
"Written when the autistic author was 10, Giroux’s poetic exploration of being/feeling different from the perspective of living on the spectrum brings to light that being neurodivergent is not the same as being broken or “less.” Being different is not an insurmountable obstacle to experiencing life but rather a gift to experience more."
Kirkus Starred Review
"Later, paper airplanes soar with the suggestion that different shouldn’t mean separate, providing an answer to the poem’s hopeful concluding sentiments about finding where one belongs."