Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lily's cat mask by Julie Fortenberry

This story is a warm homage to every child who's ever had a beloved toy or piece of clothing that gave them confidence.

Lily is feeling a bit nervous about school and isn't really happy about shopping with her dad for new school things, but when she sees the cat mask she absolutely knows she must have it. It becomes her constant companion as she plays, imagines, hides, and stands out. But one day...it's gone. Her dad tries to make her a replacement, but it just isn't the same. Luckily, she finds her mask a few days later!

When Lily starts school her mask is there...but she's only allowed to wear it as recess. Lily has trouble adjusting to life without her mask but gradually adapts to her classroom. Best of all, her teacher has a costume party and she finally meets a friend who understands just how much her mask means to her!

The story is light and will be familiar to plenty of readers. What really stands out are the illustrations. Lily is not only one of the few brown-skinned characters who is the star of her own book, but her father and most of the adults in her world are also pictured with brown skin. The diversity shifts in her classroom - her teacher is Asian and the other pupils show what I've come to think of as the typical "diverse classroom" (a couple brown-skinned kids, at least one red-head, but still mostly white) - but the scenes of her family and her relationship with her father are powerful.

Verdict: A sweet story, made all the stronger by its depiction of the bond between father and daughter. Perfect for sharing with children going through transitions to school or other new experiences.

ISBN: 9780425287996; Published 2017 by Viking; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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