Few brown girls (and even few brown women) have ever been able to tell a story like this.
Child star Wallis, best known for her debut acting role as the indomitable Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild and co-starring with Jamie Foxx in the 2014 version of the blockbuster musical Annie, recounts the glamourous night she and her mother spent at the Academy Awards ceremony. The African-American protagonist starts the day by waking up early and “tap, tap, tapping” around the house in her sparkly, new blue shoes, then waking up her siblings to make sure they share in her excitement. After the family enjoys a pancake breakfast, a stylist comes to give Quvenzhané a fabulous hairdo (about which her older brother teases her), and then her mother helps her don a new blue dress. An impressive limousine transports mother and daughter to the Academy Awards, and all goes well until Quvenzhané steps out of the car and falls, face first, onto the red carpet. Thinking of daddy helps her get over the embarrassment and move on to the main event. Expressively illustrated with Brantley-Newton’s characteristically upbeat illustrations, the book exudes positivity (“I don’t win, but Mama and I have ice cream sundaes just the same”) and excitement and tells a unique story.
As (at 9) the youngest contender to date for an Academy Award best actress prize, Wallis narrates a story well worth reading and sharing. (Picture book. 4-8)