An affirming wish list for girls.
Hahn’s opening author’s note sets an affirming tone for the ensuing text and its joyful, hopeful vision for girls—though in the book proper she never mentions the word “girl,” nor does she use a gendered pronoun. Instead, second-person address is combined with illustrations that depict children who all appear feminine (though some wear gender-neutral clothing). It opens with: “My wishes for you are many. / But at the top of the wishes: / I want you to be you.” Some spreads, such as this one, include several children; others depict only one. Throughout, Barrager’s appealing digital illustrations include girls with a range of skin colors and hair textures participating in many activities. But even though text encourages readers to “Love your big beautiful belly,” the girl on this page and those throughout the book all seem pretty thin, and not one is visibly disabled. The late, singular illustration of a girl of color wearing a hijab and standing with seven other girls in the closing spread represents a welcome moment of inclusivity that nevertheless may have readers wishing she were also in a prior illustration showing her engaged in some activity—riding a bike, reading, eating, or somehow interacting with others. Ultimately, this is an affirming, empowering text with accompanying illustrations that charm but don’t rise to meet its promise.
Hopeful, playful girlhood guidance. (Picture book. 3-8)