illus. by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. 32p. Albert Whitman. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807537541.
K-Gr 2—Bespectacled Janine reads the dictionary for fun, plays with invisible friends, enjoys singing on the bus, and is kind to everyone. One mean student among her diverse group of classmates judges Janine's behavior as bizarre and makes fun of her, but Janine is content being herself and sees no reason to try to blend in. The taunting classmate invites the "cool" kids to her birthday party, leaving Janine off the guest list and telling her, "You are STRANGE! You have to CHANGE!" Instead of feeling hurt or ostracized, Janine decides to host her own party in which no one will be excluded. Though some of the other children have remained silent and appear to side with the mean girl, they soon realize that Janine is the nicer child and excitedly agree to attend her party. The text, which appears hand-lettered, and the various-sized and brightly colored illustrations, are engaging and offer much movement. Gently dealing with a bully while remaining true to herself, Janine is an admirable character who doesn't need to put someone else down in order to feel good about herself.
VERDICT A refreshing tale of being true to oneself.

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