Not quite snow white

There are so many things I love about Ashley Franklin and Ebony Glenn‘s NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE: Body positivity, parents who nimbly reframe whispered putdowns into affirmations, and a story that pushes back against race and dominate beauty standards undermining how kiddos see themselves and, consequently, the roles they set out to snag.

When the normally-irrepressible Tameika hears other kids whispering about her height, race, and weight as she tries out for the role of Snow White in the school play, she’s deflated by uncertainty.

I appreciated that Franklin didn’t construct this story in such a way that Tameika “solves” the other kids’ bullying on her own. Picture books should take on big things, but the bigger, more entrenched the issues, the more we need loving adults to play a part in our texts.

And rather than deny Tameika’s differences, the parents help Tameika answer perceived lack with irrefutable bounty. With her confidence restored, Tameika shines in her audition. Now that deserves a standing O.

All kids should see themselves represented in picture books, and all kids should see children who don’t look like them star in stories that help us navigate our differences.

While not particularly interested in performance or theater arts, my own kiddo is really drawn to this story, and I think it’s because he’s at an age where he has a naturally strong sense of justice, and this book gets at such a universal desire: to be seen and loved, as and for who we are.

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