Review by Kim Higginson, Information Management Specialist, MHF
Mary E. Whitcomb, Illustrated by Tara Calahan King (1998). Chronicle Books, US
This is a tale about being different and the pressures of fitting in. Though written 20 years ago, my son assures me kids today feel the same pressure to dress the same, eat the same and like the same things as their peers.
The main character Velvet wears second-hand clothes, eats carrots and butter sandwiches, and prefers playing with rocks rather than dolls. In the beginning the kids are wary of her and don’t want to be seen as different too, but as time goes on they come to realise that different is in fact cool.
It gives kids a chance to reflect on why we feel we all need to be the same and question if fitting in is as important as first thought. I particularly like that despite what others think that Velvet keeps on being her weird and wonderful self.
The story also gets across a secondary but powerful message that having the best of things is perhaps not as important as learning, imagination, creativity and friendship.