Etta ­Extraordinaire

­HarperCollins. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063295711.
K-Gr 3–At first look, Etta Extraordinaire feels like a retread of well-worn precocious girl territory, following in the steps of Fancy Nancy or Eloise. Like those, this is full of imagination and clutter. Rich cityscapes accompany protagonist Etta as she adds color and jewelry to her life. The tale throws a curve ball by introducing something new to the narrative: fear. Yes, Etta is bold and confident, but she’s also—scared. The talent contest at school entices her, but Ahmed allows readers to see that Etta is nervous about it. It’s an appealing gray area in a medium that often tends towards black and white. The book continues onward to offer an exceptional four-step road map for any kid: prepare, practice, look the part, and perform. It’s a simple formula, and something children can easily emulate for success. Add that lesson to other Easter eggs—a cat named after Eartha Kitt, or a nod to widely unknown blues singer Etta Moten—and Etta Extraordinaire is a new shade in the rainbow of vivacious determined heroines.
VERDICT Overall a revisiting of classic flamboyant femmes but with enough interesting details to add freshness. Good for early elementary students.

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