THE BOOK: One Hundred Percent Me
PUBLISHED IN: May 2022
THE AUTHOR: Renee Macalino Rutledge
THE PUBLISHER: Bloom Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Ulysses Press
SUMMARY: A little girl is used to hearing questions about her looks all the time. “Where are you from?” “What are you?” These questions are a constant reminder from others that she is different. As she embraces her identity and culture, she teaches others that she belongs, that the differences they notice are part of what make her unique, special, and herself.
THE BACK STORY: All my life, I’ve heard the questions the protagonist in the story hears. As a brown person, I’ve come to expect being exoticized, “othered” in habitual conversation. When I became a mother, I witnessed my daughters being asked the same questions. I also noticed, with their being multiracial, people constantly want to tell them who or which side they look like. This can be totally innocent and often stems from curiosity or affection. But One Hundred Percent Me turns those questions on their head, gives the child the agency to say, “I’m from here; this city is just as much mine as yours; and I am distinctive and beautiful.”
WHY THIS TITLE?: Identity can’t be placed in fractions. With multiracial kids, it’s widespread to say, I’m “half” this and “half” something else; or “a quarter” this and “three-quarters” that. But in reality, you can’t chop up DNA that way. It’s important to acknowledge our ancestors and our cultural heritage. But no matter our background, we are all one hundred percent ourselves. The book also speaks to the wisdom of children. They wouldn’t chop up identity in perfectly neat designations. They’re way of knowing is often right on point.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It reminds us all that we are matchless, connected to generations of ancestors who helped to make us who we are.
“Reading One Hundred Percent Me brought tears to my eyes as I followed the little girl through her encounters with people asking questions such as “what are you?,” and through her attempts to respond. Although my background is 100 percent European, I believe I could have used this book as a child to help me understand how I am unique and one of a kind, just as Renee Rutledge’s little girl finds a way to explain and be proud of her own heritage and uniqueness. The author’s simple yet poetic language and the beautiful illustrations by Anita Prades carry the story forward to its happy conclusion.” — Kevis Brownson, Organizer of the Alameda Authors Series 2017-2020
AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in the Philippines and raised in California from the age of 4. My husband was born in New York, with family from New York and Puerto Rico. We both grew up multilingual then forgetting and having to relearn our mother tongues, Tagalog and Spanish. I wrote my first poem when I was six years old and believe in Ursula LeGuin’s quote: “The creative adult is the child who has survived.”
AUTHOR COMMENTS: My children did not grow up seeing themselves in books, nor did I, but this is changing as the literary landscape becomes more inclusive. The more we can identify with the characters we read about, the more inspired we are to be the change we wish to see in the world.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Books Inc., Alameda; Barnes and Noble, Emeryville.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Bookshop.org, Indiebound.org, Powells.com, Walmart, your local bookstore, anywhere books are sold
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Instagram: @renee_rutledge; website: reneerutledge.com