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Monday, February 14, 2011

Noni Says No, written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote. Tundra, 2011. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"But now, if her friend Susie asks to
sleep over, Noni says yes, even though
she sometimes wants to say no.
If Susie asks to play with Noni's special
doll, Noni says yes.
If Susie asks to borrow her favorite dress,
Noni says yes.
Noni absolutely, positively cannot say no."

There are so many things that Noni CAN do! She helps with the baby, works in the kitchen with her mother. and is independent. But, there is one thing that she doesn't seem able to do. She just can't say 'NO!'  As with all other children, there was a time when saying no was a daily occurrence, and often more than once a day!Now, she wants everyone to be happy, especially her best friend Susie.

It doesn't seem to matter what Susie wants to do, or play with, or wear. Noni always says 'yes'. Susie, on the other hand, has no problem replying in the negative when Noni has a request:

"At Susie's house, when Noni asks if she can sleep over, Susie has no trouble saying no.
When Noni asks if she can play with Susie's special teddy bear, Susie says no without

Noni wants to say no, but she cannot bring herself to do it. Until one day....

The result will be as much a surprise to the reader as it is to Noni.

Genevieve Cote does such a commendable job of creating Noni's character. She is a gentle and caring little girl whose willpower is non-existent when Susie is near. I love the way she uses reds for the cheeks and background to give readers a feel for the embarrassment and concern she has when she cannot refuse Susie's demands. The smudgy charcoals are effective for the times when she does remember being negative and contrary. Playful and full of feeling, these illustrations provide a grand accompaniment to this empowering story of a young girl finding her own voice.

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