Outside a little girl’s building, there is garbage and broken glass. Someone has written angry graffiti on the front door. There is a scary alleyway on her way to school that she runs past, heeding her mother’s warning to never linger there. In school, she learns the word “beautiful,” and decides to look for something beautiful in her neighborhood. When she begins to look, she finds that there is beauty everywhere: in Miss Delphine’s fish sandwiches, in her friend Georgina’s dance moves, in Jamal’s new shoes, in Mr. Lee’s colorful fruit stand. Returning to her home, she takes a broom and bucket, cleaning up the garbage and glass and scrubbing away the graffiti. She decides that beauty is everywhere if you look for it, and her mother agrees, because to her, the little girl is the most beautiful thing of all.
This was a fantastic story with an amazing message about perspective, and the effect our attitude can have on how we view the world. The girl’s city starts off as cold and menacing, but when she chooses to look for beauty, it’s everywhere, especially within herself. The best part is the end, where she decides to create change in the world to add to its beauty: she removes the graffiti that makes her sad, she makes plans to plant flowers in her courtyard, she decides that one day she will help the homeless woman who lives on the street next to her home. It’s a powerful encouragement to children that anyone can be an agent of change. The art is drop-dead gorgeous, and captures the authentic beauty of city life. The length is great, and JJ really liked this one. Fantastic book, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!