A charmingly illustrated book with a strong heroine, a solid message, and an accessible vocabulary for newly independent...


Pink, glitter, and a curly-haired protagonist shout out the girl appeal of this lesson about accepting who you are and how you look.

The heroine wasn’t born the spiral-curled child gracing the front cover of this debut picture book. Readers are introduced to her first as a bald baby with an already expressive face and active demeanor. Her older siblings don’t know why her hair won’t grow. But when it finally sprouts, Curlee Girlee sports a full head of out-of-control hair, unlike everyone else in the family. While her nickname is given with affection, Curlee Girlee soon becomes frustrated with being different from her straight-haired siblings and parents. Although her mother tries to comfort her, Curlee Girlee takes steps to fix her hair herself. The precocious preschooler attempts to use a brush and water but only makes her hair even fluffier. She tries a rolling pin but only succeeds in causing a kitchen disaster. Then she concocts her own shampoo from strawberry syrup, honey, and other sticky ingredients, but the mess only gets worse. Eventually, after a dream of magic barrettes, Curlee Girlee snoops in her mother’s closet and discovers a photo of a relative with hair just like hers. Looking different from the rest of the family can be hard on children, especially during their preschool years. In Twersky’s tale, Curlee Girlee’s ability to accept herself just as she is does not come easily, which makes her journey feel realistic and earned. Some children will never have the validation of a relative who looks like them, but the love the heroine’s mother shows her daughter, even when she makes mistakes, provides comfort and opportunities for parents to discuss distinctions with questioning kids. Wolcott’s (Dream It! Do It!, 2015, etc.) illustrations are wonderful throughout, capturing Curlee Girlee’s spirit perfectly, with the exception of one seemingly misplaced image that is missing all the goop she’s created. Curlee Girlee’s features are pale, and her hair is light brown, but the infectious child, the loving family, and the moral of learning to like your own appearance should ring true even for those who don’t see themselves reflected in the cute pictures.

A charmingly illustrated book with a strong heroine, a solid message, and an accessible vocabulary for newly independent readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9968438-1-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sandbox Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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