Self-confidence is hard to come by when classmates make fun of the things that make Lili Macaroni herself.
Butterfly-loving Lili opens by telling readers where her signature traits came from: She’s got Mom’s red hair, Dad’s freckles, Grandma’s eyes, and Grandpa’s “magical laugh.” She proclaims: “I am the way I am.” But when Lili starts school, not only does she learn the three R’s, she learns “that a heart can ache” when her new friends tease her for those very special family traits. Lili tries to become a new girl, renaming herself Sophia, but how will her family members feel if she erases their parts? Luckily, Lili’s wise father has a suggestion for easing the ache that also taps into her passion. He doesn’t solve the problem for her; Lili herself takes the next step to let her class know why she has been so sad. And the next school day, everyone sports a polka-dot butterfly on their shoulder to help with their own heartaches. The tale ends with an older Lili, her bedroom ceiling a mass of butterflies. “My name is Lili Macaroni, and I am who I am.” Boulanger’s changing perspectives and use of shadows to stand in for other kids’ teasing set the mood, Lili’s exuberant brightness changing to more somber tones with her sadness. Lili and her family are white; there is one black classmate.
From Québec, a wonderfully empowering message to be yourself, with a strategy to ease heartache added for good measure. (Picture book. 4-8)