McAnulty and Lew-Vriethoff shatter the cultural definition of “beauty” by showing young girls of all races and abilities studying nature, dressing up as pirates, experimenting in chemistry, and more.
Many folks are socially conditioned to immediately praise a little girl based on her looks or dress. It can be difficult to not squeal over ruffles or ringlet curls. Coupled with the endless fascination with princesses, sparkles, and jewels of many a young child, the world can distinctly narrow what “beautiful” means. With a text that sounds like it could have been directly lifted from a charm school handbook, McAnulty and Lew-Vriethoff upend the norm. Each phrase is paired with illustrations that show an alternative meaning. “Beautiful girls move gracefully” portrays girls playing football, soccer, baseball, and basketball (in wheelchairs). “Beautiful girls smell like flowers” is paired with young tots digging in dirt, planting a garden, and getting messy. “Beautiful girls smile sweetly” shows gleeful friends, one with uneven teeth and the other with braces, biting into juicy orange slices. Bright, bold illustrations certainly can’t show every single girl, but many will find themselves in these pages.
Celebrated here for their particularity and their diversity, girls are given the space to find beauty in all kinds of ways. (Picture book. 4-8)