A mushroom realizes that she doesn’t need to be fancy to stand out in this folk tale from author/illustrator Taiani (MishMish: Spy Cat, 2016, etc.).
Amber, a mushroom, wakes for the first time. After praising several other fungi for their colorful accents and interesting shapes, she’s hurt when a delicate white mushroom calls her ordinary-looking. She asks Beryl, another mushroom, what she looks like; Beryl explains that she and the rest of the colony look the same. Although Beryl tries to assure her that it’s special to be a fairy-ring mushroom, Amber sets off to make “the prettiest hat in the forest.” When she returns to the colony, she sees that the light of the full moon glows on the tops of their hats, and she offers her newly-made hat to a winged fairy. She then realizes that wearing the hat didn’t make her special—making it did. The book’s message, about finding an inner gift, comes through strongly. However, Amber’s realization that the fairy-ring mushrooms are beautiful as well muddles the theme. Taiani’s painterly illustrations have a whimsical tone, perfect for the fairy-story setting. The fairies themselves are diverse in their appearance, which reinforces the sameness of the mushroom colony.
Young readers will identify with Amber’s desires in this tale and have fun imagining what she might create next.