Review: Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Review by Katelyn Wrightbeautiful

What does it mean that girls are beautiful, graceful, and stylish? In this picture-book, you’ll find a completely new and empowering use of these terms. The graceful girls play soccer, slide through the dirt in softball, and fight for jump balls in wheelchair basketball. And the girls with smart style dig through mud for bugs and build circuit boards for toy cars. Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff show that girls can do anything and that beauty has nothing to do with your looks, but everything to do with your curiosity and fearlessness.

Beautiful affirms that all girls, regardless of their skin color or physical ability, are strong, smart, and beautiful. Each page depicts girls of all shapes and sizes living boldly: playing instruments, conducting science experiments, competing in sports, and more. The book turns our current standard of beauty on its head, offering a world where beauty comes from frog-catching and mud-digging. McAnulty and Lew-Vriethoff advocate for each girl to embrace her unique identity, be it black, brown or white, handicapped or able.img_3029

This book seeks to create a liberating and plural definition of beauty for young readers. The illustrations highlight this message, as girls skateboard, climb, and explore their way across the pages. Black, White, and Asian girls are equally represented, and every few pages feature girls in wheelchairs, who are strong and capable, too. As a teacher, I want children everywhere to see Beautiful’s bold and limitless representation of what it means to be a girl.

by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew- Vriethoff (illustrator)
Running Press Kids, 2016
32 Pages

Katelyn is a middle school teacher fueled by coffee and books, currently working toward an M. Ed. in English Education.

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