Flower Girl

Norton. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781324030355.
PreS-Gr 3–Nicki is thrilled when her coolest aunt, Carmela, asks her to be the flower girl in her upcoming wedding. “I am all in for love and pretty petals!” Yet when Nicki sees a flower girl dress in the wedding store, she gets quiet and sad. She tells Aunt Carmela she doesn’t want to be a flower girl. The next day, her dad takes her along while he tries on his suit for the wedding. He asks her to try one on, too, and a confident Nicki emerges from the dressing room in a light purple suit with a red polka dotted bow tie. “‘You’re GORGEOUS!’ Dad said. ‘I guess I am,’ said Nicki.” At the wedding, Aunt Carmela tells Nicki, “You gotta be you. And YOU are the best Flower Girl ever.” Soft, charming comic illustrations portray Nicki’s family with a variety of skin colors. Concise text rich in sensory and emotional description is well suited to be read aloud. The beauty of this story is how completely accepting Nicki’s family is. When she can’t find the words to express her feelings over the dress, her dad seems to know exactly what to do. After Nicki finally admits she’s “not really a dress kind of girl,” her dad simply nods and says, “Never have been.” Nicki’s family not only accepts but celebrates her choice in wedding attire. Their affirming words and actions bring her joy and an obvious sense of belonging. Nicki never questions her gender identity: she is happy to be called a flower girl and clearly thinks of herself as a girl.
VERDICT Whether used to explore the concept of gender expression or to model how to encourage people to express and live out their true selves, this is a heartwarming story of love and affirmation, and a flower girl who prefers a suit to a dress.

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