A bespectacled naked mole rat stays true to her awkward self.
By human standards, Zuill’s anthropomorphized naked mole rats are all pretty weird-looking: unsettlingly humanlike; pinkish-white but with beady little eyes, pronounced snoots, and vacant smiles. It seems that there are hierarchies even among naked mole rats, however, and Sweety is somewhere toward the bottom. With Coke-bottle glasses and headgear over her buck teeth, Sweety “could be intense”; she loves mycology and interpretive dance, and she has a hard time making friends with the more popular naked mole rats. Refreshingly, this story doesn’t follow a “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” plot, in which deviance is only acceptable if it’s useful to others, nor is anyone particularly unkind to the strange mole-girl. Sweety’s aunt Ruth informs her that “being different was one of the best things about her life, and that if you stayed true to yourself, you’d find your people.” Sweety thinks a little about how to be more popular and considers different attention-getting tricks to find her people, but at the end she decides to “continue to do her favorite things, and be herself.” Hilarious, slightly (and appropriately) off-putting pen-and-ink sketches (with an especially delightful spot of some goth adolescent mole rats) perfectly illustrate Sweety’s uniqueness.
This kind but snarky, winningly honest story about being a square peg is sure to appeal to misfits and queen bees alike. (Picture book. 4-8)