Saturday, November 24, 2018

Review - Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties

Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties (Amelie & Nanette #1)
by Sophie Tilley
Date: 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Amelie and Nanette are best friends, and have been FOREVER. Because there is nothing nicer than having a best friend to share your secrets and adventures with.

Everyone will be charmed by the wonderfully nostalgic, delightfully innocent and enchantingly carefree world of Amelie and Nanette. Their lives are rich with adventure, sometimes good, sometimes bad (and sometimes a little sad) but always mixed with laughter. From riverside picnics and seaside capers to cake-baking marathons and dressing-up, there's an adventure around every corner. And, even when things go wrong, there's nothing so awful that their friendship (and a big hug) can't make better.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I get that there are girly-girls who love flowers and bows and butterflies and pretty dresses. And this book might appeal to them. Unfortunately, it didn't appeal to me, and I was pretty disgusted by the time I was finished.

First, it's so girly. It's like a pile of stereotypical female cisgender vomit... with a pretty bow on top (because a bow makes everything better). I'd hate to think that people would buy this for their girls simply because they're girls. Second, the whole premise is one of entitlement. Nanette gets a new pair of shoes and Amelie gets a new dress... so then they have to throw themselves a party because they got new stuff. I cringed reading that, thinking about what it would be like for a kid who's wearing their older sibling's hand-me-downs to come across this book in the library. They'd probably feel like they were missing out on something. Third, when the girls run into trouble on their picnic (Amelie's dog steals one of Nanette's shoes and Amelie's dress gets wet and dirty as they're chasing him), they don't actually solve any of their own problems. Their mothers do, and not even on the page; we're just told their mothers made everything all better (because that's what "good mothers" do... implying that if your mother can't or won't solve all your problems, she's not a good one). I wanted to see these girls more empowered. Instead, all we got were a couple of frivolous, spoiled little girls who couldn't even solve their own problems.

The illustrations are pretty, but they're cavity-inducing sweet. It's all a bit much, with the butterflies and flowers and pastel colours everywhere. The pictures might appeal to some kids, but I'd be hesitant to recommend this book to anyone because of the shallow, superficial, and disempowering message.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.83 out of 5

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