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.