It is almost Halloween in Oak Glen, California, and 7-year-old Alfleta “Alfie” Jakes and her 11-year-old brother, EllRay, are deciding what costumes to wear.
Oak Glen Primary School is having a Halloween parade, and both siblings want to look great. Alfie is not quite sure about hers yet, but no matter what she chooses, she wants to “fit in” after some interactions that have left her feeling out of place. At a sleepover, a friend opines that farmers market vegetables are “dirty” even though Mrs. Jakes shops there, and on “Cute Barrette Day” Alfie feels different because her hair isn’t “floppy and loose.” When new girl Bella Babcock invites Alfie over to play, she suggests their being bunnies together. It’s perfect! But when Alfie hears the other second-grade girls in Mr. Havens’ class share what costumes they think are best, she begins to doubt herself. Soon the titular princess war breaks out. Mr. Havens calls a meeting to settle it, and Alfie suggests that all the girls could be princesses. Everyone seems to like this idea except Bella, who still wants to be a bunny. What to do? This fourth addition to the Absolutely Alfie series presents a stressful scenario readers will recognize, and they’ll appreciate seeing how Alfie manages this social conundrum with the loving support of her African-American family. Malone’s spot illustrations reinforce Warner’s descriptions of a class in which Alfie and another black girl are the “only two girls with brown skin” in their friend group, who mostly present white except for one girl with Asian features.
Charming and sweet. (Fiction. 7-11)