Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson

Cover for WillowWillow, the protagonist of this book has a personality reminiscent of Eloise and Madeline. Her stubborn determination to be imaginative and artistic even as her art teacher, Miss Hawthorne tries to break the spirit of creativity with rigid rules eventually transforms her teacher. Willow’s open, loving spirit is innocent and generous and the story is an inspiring example of adult-child interaction. The illustrations are energetic, riveting paintings that transport the reader into a parallel universe of creativeWorld. I’ve already gifted this book to one of my daughter’s friends. I bet you’ll find it just as infectious and worthy of sharing.

When one reads Willow, it is easy to believe that you are reading about a child of color, however I bought the second book in the series, Willow and the Snow Day Dance and the character’s parents are both white with no explanation of adoption so I’m thinking that I’m wrong about her being a child of color. In addition, when I read A Fire Engine for Ruthie, I noticed, with the illustrations of Ruthie that it is Cyd Moore’s style to draw her girl protagonists with wavy krinkly hair (although that doesn’t negate Willow’s brown skin). I emailed the illustrator, Cyd Moore and the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press asking if Willow is a child of color and have not yet received an answer. Despite that, I’m including Willow on this site because sometimes children just need to see their likeness on the page in a book with a real story and a child with a dynamic personality, and there are plenty of children of color who can look at Willow and see themselves in her light brown skin and wavy hair that grows out instead of down.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended; Ages 5+

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda