Review Blog

Sep 16 2015

Being Agatha by Anna Pignataro

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781760067267
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Families. Difference. Acceptance. Kindergarten. When Agatha was born she had her father's nose and her mother's ears, and looked a little different from the rest of her family. Her soft brown nose and piggy ears made her stand out and this was exemplified when she went to kindergarten for the first time. All the other children seemed quite different from Agatha and try as she might, she was unable to make any friends, and even George teased her.
One day Miss Tibble told them that each one was different just like the stars and snowflakes and asked the children to say what was special about them.
Each could pinpoint one special thing about themselves, but Agatha was at a loss, and so hid herself in the classroom. When it came her turn each of the children told the class why Agatha was special and so she realised that being Agatha was the most special thing of all.
This is an endearing tale of being different, of understanding that everyone is different in their own way, of accepting the difference of others around you and counting your difference as something special. Pignataro's use of pen and chalk brings little Agatha to life and the reader will readily sympathise with a young child who feels different when she gets to kindergarten. The use of white space sets the characters in the foreground of each page, and I love the different placement on each page, ensuring children are made aware of the illustrator's thought processes. Each page is different, showing aspects of Agatha's family or her days at kindergarten, impelling the reader to look more closely at the range of things offered.
This will be a charming addition to the school library, useful as a story to read, but also to introduce the themes of difference and acceptance.
Fran Knight

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