Willow Finds a Way

illus. by Tania Howells. 32p. Kids Can. Mar. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-55453-842-3.
K-Gr 1—Being invited to someone's birthday party is an honor, especially if it's someone who's popular like Kristabelle. Willow is thrilled to be on the initial guest list, but she becomes troubled as Kristabelle begins to remove names as children displease her. Willow knows Kristabelle's behavior is cruel and controlling but she just can't find the words or the nerve to tell her. Eventually, she finds the courage to remove her own name from the list, and the rest of her classmates follow suit. This leaves Kristabelle distressed since no one wants to come to her party. The students watch her struggle while learning an important lesson. She then destroys the list and invites all of them to the party. They happily reconsider after recognizing that she has changed her ways. Button has recognized a common childhood dilemma, trying to deal with a peer's controlling personality. She has crafted a story to help children acknowledge and express their feelings while in uncomfortable situations. Howells's artwork is simple and strongly emotional. The conclusion elicits a sigh of relief from readers as the tension in the class is eliminated and the party will go on. A good choice to prompt discussions about friendship, bullying, and self-confidence.—Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT

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