Behind the Book: I'm From

Learn all the small details and everyday moments that make up our protagonist's community in I'm From, by debut picture book author Gary R. Gray Jr., illustrated by Caldecottt Honoree Oge Mora. Read on to watch the book trailer, see a video from Gary talking about the book, and check out our Shake Up Your Storytime educators' guide for discussion questions and activities to use with your students and patrons.

Watch the Book Trailer

Gary R. Gray Jr. Talks about I'm From

I'm From is part of our Shake Up Your Storytime campaign, featuring a diverse assortment of picture books perfect for planning inclusive storytimes. Check out more information here and download our free guide below.

Check out the educators' guide for discussion questions and extension activities!

Praise for I'm From

"The reiterative phrase 'I come from...' frames the reflections of a Black child narrator discussing their identity in this tenderly observed picture book. Layered collage spreads by Caldecott Honoree Mora pulse with vibrant color and movement. Poet Gray, making a picture book debut, models the process of, and the power in, learning that 'I come from/ somewhere.'"
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"While describing a seemingly ordinary routine, the lyrical text is a journey through Black language and culture, evoking a sense of identity, community, and connectedness. Mora's mixed-media illustrations enhance the poetic storytelling. The colorful collage-work adds texture and motion to the pages, while selective hand-lettering emphasizes parts of the verse. This beautifully rendered picture book serves as a reminder of the importance of familial and cultural identity and the grounding that it offers in the wider world."
  — Horn Book (starred review)
"In a book that comes right from the heart, Gray explores a young Black boy’s experience during a typical day in his neighborhood. Mora’s beautiful illustrations enhance the view of the hero’s environment and experiences. Although the focus of this book is on a Black family, children of all ethnicities and gender identities will be able to relate to the main character feeling out of place for something that outwardly casts him as “different” from others. A beautiful, simple look into one child’s typical experience that all readers can learn from and relate to."
  — School Library Journal (starred review)
"For some, 'Where are you from?' has a geographical answer, but this kid offers a thoughtful and poignant alternative perspective that showcases the layered textured papers and gouache paints of Mora’s illustrations. The answers he ultimately offers readers are as tasty as 'buttermilk biscuits' or as touching as 'bear-tight cuddles,' as soft as pecks on the cheek or as far-reaching as the hopes and dreams of his family. An origin story for the ages—intimate, poetic, singular, and broadly relatable."
  — Kirkus Reviews
"Multiple-award-winning illustrator Mora creates a vibrant world: double-page spreads pop with bright, detailed collages of painted and patterned paper, including well-considered swatches of printed paper. In his picture-book debut, poet Gray shines a light on a contemplative child who sees his family ethos as a place of reassurance and pride and recognizes his own belonging there as a reader and storyteller. A satisfying and affirmative read about self-awareness and family."
  — Booklist

About the Author

Gary Gray, Jr., is a Black Canadian poet and educator who writes for young children and adults, and he's the host of the podcast ItsPersonal. Gray's love for literature stems from told and untold stories within his hometown of Preston, Nova Scotia, the largest Black community in Canada. He and his wife have been international educators for more than ten years. You can visit him online at

About the Illustrator

Oge Mora graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration. Her debut picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor Book, a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice, and a Junior Library Guild selection. She is also the author-illustrator of Saturday as well as the illustrator of The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read. Oge lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and invites you to visit her website at