Top critical review
Is not empowering
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2020
This book tries to promote diversity of physical attributes but in truth just perpetuates many problematic messages.
Ellie is excited to go to school. Once there, she gets unsure about going “into that strange place,” wonders if she won’t fit in, her tummy hurts. I wouldn’t want to read this page to my four year old who is starting TK this fall because it would introduce her to a negative mindset and fearful terminology for anticipating school. I just feel it’s possible to give an honest expression of nervousness without going into the territory of anxiety. Especially for young children who are trying to find words and attitudes to adopt, in order to make sense of their feelings.
She gets brave anyway and goes in, tells the class who she is. Cool cool. Seemed like things were going to look up for Ellie until...
Three pages of huge blunders...
1. she breaks her chair (implied it’s because she is big), the whole class laughs
The teacher tells the class not to laugh but this is in vain (later they laugh again)
then she trips and spills her bag in front of everyone
then she breaks the toy box on accident, implied because she is big, everyone laughs again
She feels shamed, goes off by herself, and a teacher comforts her by giving her a book (rather than talking to her?! No encouragement?!)
The resolution comes when the other kids get a ball stuck in a tree and she’s the one who gets the ball down w her trunk and somehow magically after that everyone is joyful and clapping and everyone plays with each other “no matter short wide big or tall”
But no one addresses the fact that they continued to laugh at her, and allowed her to be isolated, making it seem like it was ok to be unsympathetic towards Ellie in the end
This book promotes the idea that being big is a negative thing and confirms that other kids will view it as negative
It doesn’t celebrate large size
The message is that you should people please and help your bullies so that they will accept you
It makes it seem like you should try to do something heroic to make up for your bigness, when the real solution to this is that the other children need to apologize
Ellie comes off as being a weak personality who will continue to find ways to bend to the norms of the school