Just Like Millie

Candlewick. Mar. 2024. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536224818.
PreS-Gr 2–Caldecott honoree Castillo (Nana in the City) gently explores anxiety and connection when a young girl moves with her mother, both pale-skinned and with yellow curly hair, to a new city. Content to play quietly inside while her mother works, the child is overwhelmed in social situations. When her mom tries to arrange a play date, “My face turned hot and my eyes felt wet.” The soft acceptance from her mother speaks to an understanding, and one morning they go to the animal shelter. Millie the dog turns their family of two into three, and the protagonist’s daily walks and care of Millie creates a safe space for her to meet people in her neighborhood with her mother and, eventually, make a friend; she approaches a mother and daughter with brown skin and dark hair and readers see them walking home. A warm palette of soft pastel, watercolor, and bold ink lines render cozy scenes and connectedness. The urban neighborhood is rich in bright colors, busy with people and their dogs. Despite the size of the city, everything begins and ends with the child’s home, where she learns how to make friends because she witnesses Millie’s behavior and fearlessness, and grows from this. Empathy, love, and acceptance win the day.
VERDICT A first purchase and excellent choice for dog story times.

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