Beautifully Me

S. & S. Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534485877.
PreS-Gr 1–It is Zubi’s first day of school. As she greets her family members, she is dismayed to hear her mother, sister, and father all bemoan the fact that they are too big or need to go on a diet. Zubi then witnesses a classmate at school being teased for being overweight and wonders to herself, “Why is looking fat bad?” Zubi internalizes the comment and returns home upset that she may become the target of teasing or criticism about her weight. Her family members assure her that, “Beauty is how you make people feel and the kind things you do.” Despite the theme of body positivity, the message is heavy-handed and even contradictory, given the depiction of plump Zubi next to her traditionally pretty (and thin) sister Naya. Things are too neatly wrapped up as her family assures her that her name, which means “loving and understanding,” will somehow translate to Zubi’s having an easier time in a world not accustomed to acceptance of out-of-the-norm body types. The cartoon-like illustrations are exuberantly colorful; Zubi’s family members have brown skin and wear a mix of Bangladeshi and Western clothing, while her classmates and teacher are shown as having diverse backgrounds. Back matter includes a glossary of Bengali terms.
VERDICT This title is more for collections seeking strong depictions of a modern Bangladeshi family than it is a realistic look at body image.–

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