A lonely, bullied child comes to proudly claim the label her tormentors give her, refusing to let their hateful judgment determine her self-worth.
Lila, a brown-skinned, black-haired girl of ambiguous ethnicity, is initially filled with joy at the prospect of making friends at her new school. Unfortunately, one boy in the classroom of fair-skinned children taunts her, jeering that her hair, skin, and eyes are “dark like a crow!!” This may confuse some young readers, as her skin is clearly a light brown. As the bullying escalates, Lila becomes isolated, the other children moving from passive bystanders to active participants in her persecution. A kindly and persistent crow who waits for Lila as she heads home from school each day helps her shift from trying to hide her appearance to appreciating and celebrating it. This newfound confidence inspires Lila to make a dramatic gesture that changes the dynamics in the classroom for the better. Translated from the French, this is the first book written by Québecoise illustrator Grimard and has obvious uses for starting conversations about embracing differences, being an upstander rather than a bystander, and the reclamation of words used as insults. The element of magical realism and luminous watercolor illustrations give this story a fairy-tale–like appeal, quite different from that of purely message-driven anti-bullying books.
Though hardly a bullying silver bullet, this is an artful take on resilience. (Picture book. 5-8)