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Be True to You!

Written by Maggie Hutchings and illustrated by Hayley Wells

Reviewed by Margarite Igras

Using her background as a counsellor dealing with children struggling with aspects of their identity, free-spirited mother and grandma Maggie Hutchings has written this positive and uplifting picture book about kids being kind and respectful to others as well as being proud of their own identity and beliefs. In her words, It’s so important that we accept and feel safe to express who we are. But equally important that we act with kindness and embrace the points of difference in others too.’
The gentle voice of the story speaks directly to the child with some positive lessons in self-worth and resilience. Just like there are many different songs, there are also many different people. Some see a princess in the mirror but in their heart, they know they are a king.  ‘And if someone doesn’t like it, if they say, ‘This cannot be!’ Sing a little louder… ‘This is really ME!’
 The simple yet clever text is in verse, but it is the bright, animated illustrations of the British based Hayley Wells, that really carries the story. The pages are filled with a range of diverse children, engaged in all kinds of play surrounded by a rush of colour, texture and patterns. The pages that stand out for me show a sad child dressed as a butterfly, unfolding into a happy bee with the text, ‘if you were born a butterfly but inside you’re a bee, spread your wings and shout it out ‘This is really ME!’
This book offers a gentle springboard to conversations with young 4 to 8 year old children about their uniqueness and the uniqueness of others.

Affirm Press 2024

1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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