FICTION

Violet Shrink

Groundwood. Mar. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781773062051.
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K-Gr 2–Violet Shrink does not like parties. Instead, she prefers to be alone, under a tent of blankets, drawing with her headphones on. She lives with her well-meaning but apparently clueless father, who inadvertently tricks her into attending social gatherings, not understanding the anxiety she experiences. To cope, Violet escapes into her imagination, but, faced with a family reunion, eventually confides in her father. He listens and accepts her, and Violet participates in the reunion under the table with her headphones on. Refreshingly, the book centers on a character whose shyness and anxiety are not “overcome”; rather, they are accepted and understood. Violet’s story is told in the present tense third person and feels relatable to its intended audience. Violet likely experiences not just shyness but serious anxiety and sensory processing disorder, and Baldacchino (Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress) describes the physical sensations of anxiety, which will resonate with children experiencing it. Mok’s illustrations, rendered in gouache, colored pencil, and graphic pencil, contain many shades of pink and purple, while the text is violet. The rest of the palette is muted, but shading and cross-hatching give the images more dimension. Violet, her father, and most of her family have paper-white skin and brown hair, and the various party guests represent a wide range of races and ethnic backgrounds.
VERDICT A helpful message about differences, acceptance, and how to navigate one’s way through the world.

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