In Braun’s debut children’s book, an 8-year-old girl embraces her uniqueness after she has an imaginative, insightful dream.
Nicoletta feels anxious when her father accepts a promotion requiring the family to move. She has always had trouble fitting in with her classmates, so starting a new school will be challenging. She also frets about leaving her beloved hammock behind, where she often gets lost in her own thoughts. Nicoletta falls asleep in it and dreams about visiting a lipstick factory called Lipstickland. Her guide is Deloris, a makeup-wearing hippopotamus, and the factory is filled with animals and humans working together in harmony. Nicoletta is shocked at this because it goes “against the natural order of things...like the popular kids working with the nerdy kids.” As Deloris shows Nicoletta around, the workers enlist the girl’s opinions on products. She even helps them pick teams for a soccer tournament and joins in the game. Deloris offers words of wisdom, enabling Nicoletta to reframe the changes in her life: “All you have to do is be open to the possibilities, believe in yourself, and remember you are never alone.” When Nicoletta wakes up, she tells her parents about Lipstickland and explains that she had the dream for a reason: she “needed to work some things out.” Later, at her new school, Nicoletta’s teacher, Mrs. Morris, is kind and caring like Deloris, and Nicoletta makes friends. Braun’s message here is clear: differences should be celebrated, and everyone has their own personality and purpose. The notion of animals coming together is a nice metaphor and Vazan’s (Laughing IS Conceivable, 2015) full-color and monochrome illustrations playfully complement the narrative. Nicoletta is a likable character, and her fears will be relevant for many children. However, at times, the young girls self-talk seems overly precocious; for example, she says, “Fear of judgement was fading, and so were my feelings of loneliness. My imagination, which had been my companion and my friend, was now focused in a new direction.” The main text of the book uses Dyslexie typeface, specifically created to be easier for dyslexics to read.
A creative take on problem-solving that will encourage young readers.