Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The New Girl...and Me

The New Girl...and Me

Fall 2006 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Author: Jacqui Robbins
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
ISBN: 0-689-86468-X
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Shakeeta is the new girl and like all new kids since schools were first invented she feels out of place. Told in the first person by Mia, wise in the ways of school politics, this gentle story of adjustment and budding friendships carefully sticks to a child-eyed perspective to make its point: it's not so much what you say that makes a difference, it's that you say it at all. When Shakeeta is left sitting with Mia on a very long, very empty bench as all the other kids run off to play soccer (“‘D.J. says they have an even number, and Shakeeta can't play. D.J. never lets me play soccer either.’”), Mia's offer to tie Shakeeta's undone shoes is rebuffed but the revelation that the new girl's pet iguana is named Igabelle leads to a mutual case of the giggles. The real charm of this book comes from Phelan's deftly executed line drawings lightly washed with watercolors and set against an expansive white background that blooms with deeper hues as the girls' friendship blooms as well. The postures of the two girls, their expressive pin-dot eyes, the tilt of their heads, and the point of their fingers all add up to a lovely and loving story about being yourself even as you learn to fit into new surroundings and make your place in the world.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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