Kid Lit Review of “Animal Beauty” by Kristin Roskifte

This is a very funny book that begins with an elephant in the zoo finding a fashion magazine. The elephant sees that wrinkles are considered anathema, and reads the advice on how to get rid of them. The zebra sees the change in the elephant, and asks to borrow the magazine. To the zebra’s horror, an article says never dress in horizontal stripes! The zebra changes to vertical stripes.

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And so it goes with all the other animals, with the panda getting rid of dark circles under the eyes, the snake adopting more fashionable leopard skin, the monkey shaving off its hair, and so on.

Before long, the children at the zoo discover all the changes, and their reaction is not what the animals expected. One little boy, sobbing, explains that the animals looked better before, crying out: “…you have to be yourselves!”

The animals agreed it was the best advice of all, and returned to the way they were.

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Norwegian author and illustrator Roskifte created colorful pictures that will appeal to the intended age group of 5-9 to make her points about the beauty and fashion industries, especially as promulgated through the media.

Evaluation: The critical evaluation of others about our appearances (and often ones defined by sexist and racist values, at that) has become an overly-important indicator of self-worth. As this book shows, the media can readily play upon our insecurities over how we look in a self-serving cycle of unrealistic images reinforced by articles to increase anxiety on the need to conform to certain standards for popular acceptance. Parents of children in today’s image-conscious societies will appreciate the helpful messages of this book, and children will find plenty to make them laugh.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published in the U.S. by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015

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