Polly and her Pigtails
by Debra Sue Latiolais
Monkey Puzzle Books

"Everyone is beautiful in his or her own way. When you can understand that, you will begin to see the beauty all around you."

In an age where news headlines report the latest incidences of peer pressure and cyber bullying, along comes Debra Sue Latiolais to delight us with a relative children's book that steps into an earlier time frame. Here with a bell-towered school house, ink-welled desks, and marble games played at recess, the author provides a simple, yet classic storyline, steeped in core values that are as relevant today as in earlier times.

At the center of this charming story is pretty little Polly, a girl clearly smitten with her own beauty. From her long blonde hair, to her matching outfits and accessories, these are Polly's priorities. An unfortunate incident with a class bully forces Polly to rethink her ways. Ultimately we see a responsible and diligent parent, guide her daughter to look beyond surface appearances. As part of The Age of Storytelling Book Series which introduces life lessons amidst historic components, Latiolais graciously shares the memory of stories she heard from her elders. The messages are basic, yet powerful, and certainly worthy of being passed to new generations. Within the narrative, Polly learns the meaning of "pretty is as pretty does," and comes to understand that true beauty lies beneath coiffures and polished outer wrappings.

Detailed watercolor illustrations provided by Mark Wayne Adams lend a beautiful compliment to the story. Bright and clear, the visuals conjure images of classic early readers, adding a touch of nostalgia to this good, old-fashioned tale. This book is a smart choice for a one-on-one parent/child read, or as a story time selection for a library or classroom setting. Discussion points noted at the book's end provide an extra educational element. While pigtailed Polly and readers absorb valuable lessons about self-worth and self esteem, hopefully Latiolais' inspirational writing will also encourage an open dialogue about modern day bullying, whether it involves typical schoolyard pranks, or activities of a more consequential and serious nature.

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