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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Lili Macaroni, written by Nicole Testa and illustrated by Annie Boulanger. Pajama Press, 2019. $19.95 ages 4 and up

"At school, I meet Eleanor and Frankie and Lou and Fatou. I learn to draw chalk pictures and play hopscotch. I listen to new stories. And I count lots of things, not just stars. I learn about
butterflies and moths - blue ones. orange ones with pretty designs, and black and white ones. My favorite is called the luna moth."

I have been reading this new book almost every day since it arrived in the mail. There's a great reason for that. My granddaughters are here to visit this month, and they love listening to it before bed each night.

Of course they have questions. Why? from the three-year old. Why polka dots on a butterfly? Why red hair? Why blueberry blue eyes? Why does that boy stick his tongue out? The almost five-year-old is readying herself for school, and was more interested in why the children would tease Lili, and what you do when you go to school. What does a luna moth really look like? Why don't they like red hair? So many reasons to read it again and again - almost every time noticing something new.

Lili is an only child; she shares one special trait with each of her parents and maternal grandparents. It isn't until she goes to school for the first time that she begins to think about those things she has always loved about herself. When her new classmates make fun of her name, her hair, her blueberry blue eyes and the spots on her nose, she is too sad to play.

She decides she will do her best to become someone else, until she thinks how disappointed everyone will be that she no longer wants to share what is so unique about her: her mom's hair, her dad's freckles, her grandma's blue eyes, and her grandpa's magical laugh. Careful thought has her deciding  she will be stay the way she is. But, she will have to come up with a plan for her aching heart. Her dad helps.

At school Lili explains to her class that the polka-dot butterfly on her shoulder helps to make her aching heart feel lighter. The next day, the children and her teacher have a surprise for her.

The colorful illustrations help children know and appreciate Lili's personality; they only change with the sadness she feels. We talked about the changing perspectives and how seeing something from above was an interesting way to watch what the children were doing. Many small details held our attention and provided for discussion.

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