Crabapple Trouble

Random/Graphic. Aug. 2020. 176p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781984896803.
Gr 2-5–The Summer Time Fair is almost here, and the Forest Fairy Kingdom has promised prizes for the winners of the produce competition. While everyone in the orchard has amazing ideas, Callaway, who sells crabapples and has an apple-shaped head, can’t think of anything. Worst of all, she becomes so worried that her head keeps popping off. During one of these episodes she meets Thistle the fairy, who helps get her head back on straight, literally and figuratively. Callaway is a relatable character who’s so overwhelmed by an impending deadline that she is unable to function, but Thistle’s “you do you” attitude gives her the reassurance she needs to figure out her contribution to the fair. While the other fairies disapprove of Thistle’s unorthodox methods, he doesn’t care what they think of him and focuses instead on accomplishing his goals. Together, the two convey a message of self-acceptance—it’s OK to take time to discover oneself and one’s role in a community. Vandorn’s vivid pastel illustrations are enchanting and surreal—like Callaway, all the other orchard characters have heads made of the fruits or vegetables that they are responsible for producing.
VERDICT With whimsical artwork and honesty, this is ideal for young readers needing reassurance that they do not have to be like everyone else.

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