Guest blogger Rebecca Rabinowitz: Fat-positive children’s books, part one

Fillyjonk says: Hi guys, remember me? I’ve been planning a wedding, which I realize is not as good of an excuse as when SM wasn’t blogging because she was studying for her orals, but it’s the best I’ve got. To make up for my absence, here’s a guest post I requested a few months ago when children’s literature expert Rebecca Rabinowitz did a guest post on The Rotund. Loads of people had been asking Aunt Fattie for fat-positive books they could give their kids or other people’s kids, so I asked Rebecca to make a few recommendations. Little did I realize that she would put in months of work (well, she also has that whole job thing) and give us not one but two guest posts on fat-positive books for kids and teens. Here’s part one.

This is the first section of a two-part post recommending children’s books that have something to offer in terms of fat politics. Section one is picture books; section two is middle grade and young adult books. I wish the list were longer, but these are, sadly, all the fatpol-friendly children’s books I have found so far. (I’m only one person, of course, so there may well be more out there that I don’t know about. Please holler if you know any!) Because fatpol-friendly children’s books are so rare, I’m taking off my regular book-reviewer hat and including some books that are artistically/literarily weaker than I would normally recommend. (Though you’ll probably be able to tell which ones I consider highest quality.)

Parameters: I focused on main characters rather than secondary characters. The characters’ levels of fatness range from slightly fat to very fat — although the status quo narrative definition of “very fat” is problematic, as has been discussed here before. Because defining levels of fatness is so problematic, I decided not to distinguish between levels of fatness in my capsule reviews. I’m frustrated and apologetic not to have found many “supersize” characters, nor many queer characters or characters of color. Although I’m not including any books that are too heinously offensive along general progressive lines, some of these books do include some sexism and racism at times, because they exist in the World, and it’s hard for things that exist in the World to avoid sexism and racism completely.

Please note: while some of these books warrant an unreserved fatpol-friendly rating, many require caveats. The list was tragically short without the mixed-message books, and I wanted y’all to be able to make your own choices. Please don’t take an inclusion on this list to mean that a book is 100% fatpol-friendly and doesn’t warrant a critical eye.

DAY ONE: PICTURE BOOKS.

Picture books that blatantly address fatpol:

STARRING HILLARY, by Kathy Caple. This is a strong HAES picture book. Hillary is a young girl character (a cat, anthropomorphized) who aspires to be on stage. Hillary is “a little on the round side.” Her wise mother says “’I wouldn’t worry about it….We come in all shapes and sizes. You are just right the way you are.’” But older sister Felice imposes dieting pressure, insisting, “You’ll never make it, as round as you are.’” Felice takes charge of restricting Hillary’s food and enforcing weight-loss-specific exercise. Hillary loses sleep and becomes newly anxious (calorie-deprived) until she sees a glamorous famous actress – a “round” adult cat. Hillary abandons the diet, eats food again, and sails through a theater audition the next day. Her conclusion: “’If I eat normally from now on, I’ll be just right.’” Victorious! (NOTE: because this is a picture book, be aware of the “don’t put beans in your ears” phenomenon. A very young child who’d not thought of dieting before could get the idea here, despite the adamantly anti-diet narrative message.)

I LIKE ME, by Nancy Carlson. This is an energetic and unabashedly didactic salute to self-esteem. A fat young girl character reads, skates, draws, dances, eats, bathes, rides a bike, and rows a boat. She likes her “round tummy” and says so. Caveats: although secondary child characters exist in the background, the protagonist seems to have no friends and to exist distinctly alone (with the exception of a mother that shows up late in the book). Her solitary self-sufficiency sometimes sounds defensive and reactive: “When I feel bad, / I cheer myself up” and “I have a best friend. / That best friend is me!” Also, despite the long literary tradition of anthropomorphized animals in picture books, Carlson’s choice to make this protagonist an anthropomorphized pig may trouble seasoned activists or readers who’ve been called pig-related names. (Reclaiming fat pride is key, but I’m not convinced that we need to reclaim a connection with actual pigs.) Absolutely HAES-friendly.

Picture books that don’t mention fatness but portray fat characters going about their regular lives unhindered by being fat (to find more on your own, simply look for fat characters who aren’t symbolically bad and whose fatness doesn’t hamper them):

HOTTER THAN A HOT DOG, by Stephanie Calmenson, illus. by Elivia. A young girl and her grandmother, sweltering in the city heat, escape to the beach for a day. They stay through the sizzling afternoon and past sunset. They splash in the ocean, dig in the sand, and eat ice cream. Elivia’s spirited and lively watercolors are occasionally slightly inconsistent such that the girl looks fatter on some pages than on others; however, the grandmother is always fat, and fatness means nothing here. Nothing bad, nothing symbolic, nothing at all. Full of joy.

THE UNBEATABLE BREAD, by Lyn Littlefield Hoopes, illus. by Brad Sneed. An uncle pops out of bed one morning with a burning inspiration to bake an unbeatable bread. His wife objects because they’re snowed in tight with no one to eat it, but his passion wins out. The bread’s fragrance while baking travels out of the house and pulls in animals from their dens and nieces and nephews from afar. It wakes people up and may even start spring. Illustrated in gorgeous paintings and written in odd but wonderful rhythm and rhyme, this features a main character (Uncle John) who is fat for no symbolic reason except maybe (if you’re really reaching for symbolism) the fact that he’s a creator/baker figure who nourishes and brings bliss.

BEA & MR. JONES, by Amy Schwartz. Kindergartener Bea has “’had it’” with kindergarten – the beanbag games, the clothespin games, the colored lollipop game. Her father is tired of running for the morning train and sitting in an office all day. A swap is in order! Both are thrilled in their new positions and, unlike in traditional picture book structure, they don’t trade back at the end. Bea and Mr. Jones are both fat, but not for any particular reason. One of my favorites.

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING, by Amy Schwartz. [MEGA-NOTE: WARNING: This book was later re-illustrated and republished by the same author/artist. For fatpol purposes, you want the 1983 black-and-white version – check your library or do an out-of-print book search. The 2005 version has color illustrations and a thin protagonist.] Sara arrives home from school with an assignment to paint a ”wonderful” (ital. orig.) picture for the art show. She has an idea for a subject but worries that it’s too insignificant. This is a classic artist’s struggle, both conceptual and philosophical, and totally accessible to very young readers. Sara and her whole family are fat, but the fatness has no symbolism and causes no hindrance.

48 thoughts on “Guest blogger Rebecca Rabinowitz: Fat-positive children’s books, part one

  1. This is great! I can’t wait for part 2 either. The list may be short now but I hope it will continue to grow!!

  2. The Thomas the Tank Engine books feature The Fat Controller (I think in the US he was renamed to Sir Topham Hatt, but in the UK originals he is simply The Fat Controller) who is just fat, no negative or positive comment made about this. Another railway in the books is looked after by The Thin Controller, Mr Percival.

    I had a book when I was a kid called “Fattypuffs and Thinifers”, by Andre Maurois. I believe it is now sadly out of print. It features two boys, one fat like his mother and one thin like his father. They travel to a fantasy land where they find themselves on opposite sides in a war between two countries, fat Edward with the Thinifers and thin Terry with the Fattypuffs. It does a great job of showing the positives of both sides and how both fat and thin need to accept each other.

    [I also had, and recently re-found and was SHOCKED by, "Rotunda ate a cookie" by Vivian Greene. What a terribly awfully non-fat-positive book.]

  3. Yay!

    I was recently asked to illustrate a children’s book for a friend of a friend- I need the work, but the storyline is blatantly fat-bashing. Kids get dog, feed dog treats, dog too fat too move, other dogs won’t play with fat dog, dog is sad, don’t be dog, fatty! So far I’ve been putting him off without telling him why, hopefully I’ll come up with the guts to just tell him “no, I won’t do this book, I think it’s damaging and misleading.” He really thinks it will be a helpful message for young children, too! “don’t be fat or nobody will play with you”

  4. I’m very upset to hear that last book, was changed to have a thin protaganist. I’m sick of the whole thing, the new Care Bears, thinner. The new Strawberry Shortcake, thinner. LEAVE MY CHILDHOOD ALOOOONNEEEEE…..uh sorry, I totally just freaked out there. LoL

    Mustella well if you don’t have something to say to that author, I sure have a few words for him:

    What kind of person writes a book teaching children how to hate themselves? I mean, seriously, children hating themselves doesn’t help children at all. I don’t care if it’s some mislead concern.

    Have you ever heard of a child who’s killed themselves, because they’ve been so bullied and tortured at school for being fat, they couldn’t face next year. I have.

    Teaching children not to be fat or nobody will want to play with you, is nothing short of schoolyard bully rehtoric. I have no idea why someone would want to write a children’s book filled with such hate. My only guess is maybe you were bullied by a fat person as a child. Well imagine that the reason they bullied you, was all the years they were bullied themselves.

    Try to make life better for children, teach them how to eat healthy, and love themselves. Not set them up for Anorexia down the road, and yes there are 10 year old children now asking “Am I fat?” and being sent to hospitals for Anorexic disordered behavior.

    Finally, please don’t involve animals in this. The last thing we need is some impressionable child thinking she’s doing good, by starving her pet thin. Seriously, can you at least keep the fat hate within your own species?

    If you want Mustella, feel free to pass that along. I’m kind of interested at how this author would react when he comes up to the reality, that beating up children for being fat in the name of health, does little more than destroy lives.

    I mean I see a lot of this in cartoons now, to the point where I will not watch cartoons anymore. At least American cartoons, I like the stuff from Japan. What happened to letting children have a childhood for goodness sake? I keep thinking, God forbid I should’ve been born today and put on a diet at age 5, and learned that my life should be about running myself ragged, and eating only vegetables. I’m exaggerating, but it just frightens the heck out of me.

    That these people like the one who wanted you to illustrate their book, could be so ignorant, so out of the loop. That they don’t understand at all that self-hate over one’s size doesn’t help anyone. Let alone a innocent and impressionable child who would take this to heart.

    Can’t we just leave the children out of our adult issues, is that too much to freaking ask?!

  5. I would be interested if any books out there address this issue for boys. I have a nephew that I love dearly. He is a big kid in everyway, height, size, personality… I am dreading the day that he realizes that I am fat. I am also afraid of the possibility that others may call him fat at some point in the future. I want to be the role model for fat is OK, but am not sure I can keep up with society alone…

  6. I don’t know about books for boys on this subject. However, I have felt that Super Mario from the Nintendo video games was a good plus size model for guys.

  7. Catgal, there are a couple of fat boy protagonists in part 2, but those books are for older kids — how old is your nephew?

  8. This is an awesome post. I cannot wait for part two. It also makes me want to go out there and start writing and illustrating children’s books, because it makes me sad to think there are so few fat protagonists out there even for kids.

  9. Time-Machine, I have a hard time understanding how adults can be so irresponsible when it comes to addressing children these days. You simply can’t put the adult pressures of the world into a child’s mind, and expect them to cope with that.

    It’s beyond me that now in the name of “health” it’s acceptable, to teach children from the youngest of ages that their body is wrong and disgusting. Maybe these book authors would like to include a voucher for a psychology appointment, because after reading their books those children will be needing to see one.

  10. Under the heading “picture books that portray fat characters”, i have a soft spot for Clorinda. Clorinda manages to be graceful and her inability to ‘make it’ on Broadway is really a species-ist issue. And in the end, the girl who loves to dance finds a place to dance.

  11. What about Olivia the Pig? I went and looked at her web site just now, and while she’s not very fat, she’s still got a little pot belly, and she’s a PIG. So I feel like her free-spirited and glamour-loving character defuses or reclaims the word pig, and all the connotations that go with it, and does make a body-positive contribution to kids lit.

  12. @ mrs.millur: Thank you, I don’t know Clorinda!

    @ mustella: While it would be wonderful for you to express to the folks involved exactly why you’re unwilling to illustrate that story, I can offer you another “out” if you want: most publishers in the children’s industry prefer that stories come to them without illustrations. They like to do the matching-up themselves (between text and artistic style). If an author does their own pictures, that’s fine; but an author who isn’t an illustrator has a better shot of being accepted for publication if the text is submitted alone.

  13. It’s horrible how early they indoctrinate these kids against fat at school now. I mean, it’s horrible they do it at all, of course. But my son has been worrying about fat since the second week of kindergarten. First, it was mine — “Mommy, can you please try to get smaller? I don’t want you to die.” Now, at age 7, he routinely asks me if he’s fat. Weirdly, all the talk about how they should eat carrots instead of cookies doesn’t seem to have the same impact. Could it be it’s because humans need more than just nutrients? Oh, no, wait. It’s probably because I’m a bad mother for ever having given him a cookie in the first place.

    Sadly, two years after my son started kindergarten, I am significantly “smaller.” And my precious little boy told me how happy he is that I’m “healthy.” Fact is, no one knows why I’ve lost weight, and my doctor has me on a round of scary tests to determine whether I have a condition that could have caused weight loss. He assures me that it’s possible my body has just changed in some benign way, but I am absolutely terrified that I’m going to have to tell my son I’m smaller because I’m sick.

    And yes. This issue has been on my mind a lot. I honestly think it’s child abuse to make kids hate fat. On themselves or on anyone else.

  14. Thanks for this! I checked out a book from my son’s school’s library last year and it was horribly fat-negative. I had the worst time telling him why we couldn’t read the book. I appreciate all your work!

    Tobermory–my son just started Kindergarten (but at Montessori), and I’m really concerned about what will happen when he’s old enough for public school. Ugh. I hate that I have to even think about this!

  15. Tobermory I hope that the doctor finds something relatively benign causing the weight loss. The Wombles are rather plumpish too, if I remember right.

    Fat protaganists, how about that boy detective, I forget his name, I think Hitchcock wrote the books? They were organized out of a junkyard, and the fat boy was the brilliant one. Kind of like Nero Wolfe Jr.

    My kids have had some comments about fat and school, particularly about my husband who is quite fat and whether fat is bad for you. I’ve been explaining that we need fats in our diet and that genes are responsible for most of our weight. They seem to be getting it pretty well. I explain that we need fuel to run our bodies and that children won’t grow big, strong, and smart without enough fuel. I don’t think it’s possible to just raise them innocent of the idea of dieting and food worship, so I’m trying to give them the correct information. I do insist they eat their vegetables and fruits, but otherwise I try not to be overly emphatic about food issues. Oh, and I disapprove of soda for lots of reasons, so we don’t have any, diet or regular, in the house. I think of it more as a quirk of mine than anything else.

  16. Tobermory you’re right, it is child abuse. I don’t know anything more trumatic, than to suggest to a child that their mommy or daddy might die because of something. I mean, seriously, it’s sick.

    This is not about health, it’s about teaching children to be good little “food police” to help the government with their health care costs. Again, YOU DO NOT MAKE CHILDREN HOLD RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADULT PROBLEMS.

    I don’t know what I would’ve done in your situation. Maybe I’d call the school and say, “Oh by the way, thanks for putting the thought into my son’s head that I have one foot in the grave. That really has helped him understand health and well being” of course, I’m sure it’d probably cause more trouble for him and myself. It’s so hard in such absurd situations, not to want to be sarcastic.

    I wonder what will happen when these children grow up, and are old enough to speak out against this maltreatment. I also wonder why the schools don’t see that this is just going to make more parents opt to homeschool their children if possible. I mean, that’s now the choice right? Homeschool your child, or send them to be taught how the government wants them to behave. Teach them how to sidestep their natural humanity and compassion for others, so they can be good little food police soldiers. Teach them to fear, and then they will behave just as the government teaches them to.

    Are our schools becoming any better than a dystopian re-education center, to teach one they better obey the rules of their country, or else? Be thin or you won’t have friends, make your parents thin or they’ll die. It is not right to teach children hate propaganda or fear propaganda like this. It is immoral. You teach a child what group to hate, and they will be marked with that for the rest of their life, not unlike Hitler’s Youths.

  17. Just wanted to clarify: After I posted, I realized “child abuse” in relation to fat acceptance could be pretty offensive to those who have suffered other kinds of physical and emotional abuse that I, fortunately, have never experienced. I should have said something more like “major emotional damage,” and I apologize to anyone whose experience I may have belittled.

  18. Fat protaganists, how about that boy detective, I forget his name, I think Hitchcock wrote the books? They were organized out of a junkyard, and the fat boy was the brilliant one. Kind of like Nero Wolfe Jr.

    The Three Investigators series? I barely remember them, but I do remember they’d built a secret hideout inside a junkyard.

  19. I could’ve used these when I was little. As it is I think I remember one story read to us in the second grade, about a prince who chooses a plain jane over a beautiful but cruel princess. I actually remember not liking it because I thought it was too simplistic…plus I think the mean princess was put in an eternal sleep at the end, which I didn’t like.

    So yeah, that about sums up my appearance-positive (nevermind fat-positive) experience with children’s books.

  20. I think it’s very telling that an author is writing a book about being fat. They are probably just so caught up in the OMG! TEH FATZ EPIDEMIC!!! that they are thinking ( and rightly so) that ANY book on the terrors of being fat will fly right off the shelves. Nevermind that most of the research does not support the media-overblown hype that obesity kills people faster than a bullet.

    As a mother of an 8 year old daughter who has been asked by her why I am bigger than other mommies, I find the truth is always the best answer. My genes dictate my body type and makes me have a tendency to hang on to every single pound like it’s my last breath. Alas, she has finally reached an age where she gets that somewhat and told me the other day she likes me just the way I am.

  21. Just wanted to clarify: After I posted, I realized “child abuse” in relation to fat acceptance could be pretty offensive to those who have suffered other kinds of physical and emotional abuse that I, fortunately, have never experienced. I should have said something more like “major emotional damage,” and I apologize to anyone whose experience I may have belittled.

    Thanks for that, Tobermory.

    Jackie, you were warned about the Hitler comments the other day. I’m sick of this shit. You’re banned.

  22. Fat protaganists, how about that boy detective, I forget his name, I think Hitchcock wrote the books? They were organized out of a junkyard, and the fat boy was the brilliant one. Kind of like Nero Wolfe Jr.

    I loved that series! I don’t think Hitchcock actually wrote the books, but he’s mentioned several times (the fat kid looks quite like him and pretends to be related to him, I think)

    Awesome post, hopefully if one day I have children, there’ll be more books like these out there.

  23. I’ve just finished reading my kid a couple of Three Investigators books. Jupiter Jones was a hero of my youth.

    They’re quite old now and there are some fairly obvious gender/racial issues, but less so than, say, Enid Blyton…

    And I used to love imagining hanging out in their secret headquarters.

  24. Vicky!
    I’m glad someone mentioned ‘Fattipuffs and Thinifers’. It was one of my favourite books until my dad refused to read it to me because it promulgated stereotypes about fat and thin people.
    Although they reconciled at the end, the fat people were all genial, jolly and lazy and the thin people all shrewd, shriveled and industrious.

  25. Rebecca —

    You are the queen of rocking rocking things.

    @Piffle and @Godless Heathen, I had forgotten about the three investigators books. The lead investigator was fat, I believe, and their mentor was Alfred Hitchcock. I don’t recall them as being all that fat positive, though — while the fact character is wicked smart, I think there was a lot of denigrating of his general fatness. I recall there being problems because the way into and out of the junkyard involved flipping between a couple of boards, and he had to squeeze a lot.

    (Rebecca, I’ve got one of those, if you want to borrow it at some point.)

  26. What about Horton? He’s faithful – 100%!

    And Finn Family Moomintroll (for older kids) – they’re kind of pudgy.

    George and Martha (hippos) by James Marshall

    Just some that I remember from when I was a kid. Granted, none of these main characters are, strictly speaking, human; however, that is fairly typical of books for younger children.

  27. WHAT A GREAT POST!! I love this!! Thank you!! Yay!! I shall totally read these to my kids!!! *happydance*

    Does anyone remember the John Bellairs books (The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt, The Curse of the Blue Figurine, etc.) They were supernatural mystery novels for kids, I suppose is the best way to describe them.

    I loved those because they showed smart, quirky, idiosyncratic-to-the-point-of-being-widely-misunderstood kids forming close friendships with smart, quirky, idiosyncratic-to-the-point-of-being-widely-misunderstood adults, and then confronting the powers of evil together.

    In a few of the books, the heroes included a girl named (I think) Rose Rita and a boy named Lewis Barnavelt. They were friends with Lewis’ weirdo wizard uncle and his witch friend/neighbor, both of whom were single (and no, there wasn’t any romantic interest between them, and the neighbor was every bit as strong and independent as the eccentric uncle.)

    I’m only now appreciating how remarkable those books are, especially considering when they were written. Rose Rita was a tomboy and was ridiculed by other kids for not being appropriately feminine and weak; Lewis was fat, and was tormented. They, too, were friends — but naturally got teased for being boyfriend/girlfriend. The troubles this causes in their relationship; at one point Rose Rita likes a boy and has to balance that with her longstanding friendship with Lewis. At another point Lewis is getting beat up and Rose Rita punches out his attackers, and Lewis feels diminished as a result, while Rose Rita feels boxed in and unappreciated. Lewis goes on a diet at some point, too; I can’t remember how that was treated. It may have been positive.

    Overall, I recall as well that the main characters’ not fitting in was treated very compassionately; while the bullying and pressure to conform they experienced was shown in the most critical light possible.

    *sniff*

    And now I’m thinking about how I used to escape into those books, under the covers at night reading by flashlight, knowing that in the morning I’d have to go back to the snotty girls’ private school I attended and be treated like human garbage just for not fitting a mold.

  28. I just bought ‘Big Momma Makes The World’ for my two year old daughter, and it really seems to tickle her to see a mama in a book who looks quite like her own! There are a couple of throwaway lines, but overall I’ve been really pleased. I’m pretty sensitive to religious material for children, and this tweaked me a little just at first, but I think it’s radical enough for this household after all!

    Amazon says:
    In this sassy creation myth that tweaks the first chapter of Genesis, Big Momma “roll[s] up her sleeves” and gets down to business (“Wasn’t easy, either, with that little baby sitting on her hip”). ” `Light,’ said Big Momma. And you better believe there was light.’ ” Here Oxenbury shows mother and child jubilantly emerging from a watery world (“There was water, water everywhere”) to greet the light at the surface. At the close of each day, a pleased Big Momma views her handiwork and pronounces a refrain that echoes the King James Bible “That’s good. That’s real good.” On the sixth day, in a sly nod to another take on the world’s beginnings, Big Momma “finish[es] things off in one big bang”-fashioning a host of creatures. As a final touch, the matriarch uses “leftover mud” to shape “some folks to keep me company” and charges them with caring for her creation. Root infuses her tale with a joyful spirit, and her lyrical vernacular trips off the tongue. Zaftig Big Momma and her chubby cherub are equally winning, and Oxenbury playfully tracks the creation process with compositions that move through subtle shades of blue and black and then transform with the addition of the golden shades of sunshine, the verdant greens of earth and an explosion of hues as birds, fish and more multiply across the pages. A gentle spin on the Genesis story sure to get youngsters talking. Ages 4-8.

    Although they say ages 4-8, my toddler stays engaged throughout each reading.

    Todd Parr is another author to consider, although I haven’t seen or read all of his work. His message seems to be rooted in diversity, and might be worth checking out. I know there’s a specific title about how great we are just as we are.

    ‘Mama Do You Love Me?’ is another featuring very artistically rounded people, but it’s also been in our collection since before I started reading a lot on racial issues, so I’m not sure it’s completely unobjectionable. It’s based around Inuit imagery, but I’m not super-familiar with that culture and I know I’m not in any place to judge whether it’s cool on that level or not. I’d love to hear what other people think!

  29. Most of the Moominbooks are a great read-aloud from around age four. And they run about in the countryside, and have great adventures, and dance, and rebel, and joyfully tuck into feasts of strawberry jam.

  30. I like the “Frances” books by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Frances and her family are round like the badgers they are. Also, Frances is a poet and philosopher!

  31. wait, are these just new books being reviewed? What about fat camp commandos, by Daniel Pinkwater? He manages to get in some nice subtleties about approaches/responses, both political and personal, to fat hate.

  32. J.von: I guess you’re right about the stereotypes in Fattypuffs and Thinifers, but I don’t recall that either side was presented in a negative manner; just that these guys were fat and jolly and lazy, and those guys were thin and shrewd and worked hard, with no judgement implied towards either side by the narrative.

    Of course they hated each other at first because each thought their way was the RIGHT way to be and they didn’t understand each other, but when they reconciled at the end they each learned to appreciate and even take on some of the others’ qualities.

    Maybe 5 out of 10 then? :-)

  33. bigmovebabes, someone pointed out Fat Camp Commandoes in the comments for Part 2 too (it’d be more of a “middle readers” book). I actually talked to Rebecca about Pinkwater while she was planning this post, and she said she hasn’t had time to read him yet (since she reviews books, I imagine she gets to the new ones first), but feel free to post a review! I’ve read a lot of Pinkwater but not that one and it sounds awesome.

  34. Hey everyone, thanks for all the enthusiasm! Wow! It’s a pleasure to post here.

    @ SSarah: I’ve just ordered Big Momma Makes the World from the library — thank you.

    @ bigmovesbabe: Nope, these books are not all new. I just happen not to have read Pinkwater. (It’s the other post that addresses chapter books, though, not this one.)

    @ those of you mentioning fat animal characters: it’s an interesting thing when naturally-fat types of animals are anthropomorphized in picture books. The pig (Olivia), elephant (Horton), badger (Frances), and hippos (George & Martha) mentioned upthread are fat, it’s true, but I’m not sure that I find them to be especially FA. They certainly aren’t the opposite — they’re not anti-fat, they’re lovely. But I personally don’t find them to give any particular message about human fatness, or at least, I don’t find them to give that message to readers who aren’t looking for it already. (The two books in the top section of the post feature anthorpomorphized animals, but those books address fatpol blatantly.)

  35. My daughter just started first grade last week. She’s naturally a very healthy, very thin child. I, on the other hand, am round as a dumpling. I’m not unhealthy but I wouldn’t mind losing a bit just for energy purposes. In general, though, I think I’m pretty fabulous.

    I’ve had the worst couple of days with my daughter. She was upset and didn’t want me to come into school because she was afraid people would say “mean things” about me. She’s in the FIRST GRADE, for pete’s sake! I didn’t expect that this would start for 2 or 3 years at least.

    After talking about this in my blog, a friend pointed me in this direction. I’ve always been so careful to make sure that all of her dolls and books show variety in gender and ethnicity and family styles… and I realize that having a fabulous fat mother isn’t enough. I need some fat friendly books and movies too. I’m very excited to read some of these. And equally sad that the first two I looked up (“Starring Hillary” and “Hotter than a Hot Dog!”) are both out of print. Yes, I can get them used but it’s still sad. And then further saddened by the re-imaging of the last one mentioned.

    For Catgal: While looking at another book on Amazon, it suggested “Dumpy La Rue” and it appears to be a pig boy who wants to dance. Might be a good one to check out.

  36. Another one is the sadly out of print “Belinda’s Bouquet” by Leslea Newman. Belinda is teased about her weight, but her gardener mom helps her to see that people, like flowers, come in all different kinds. I especially love that it shows a child with two moms where that is just a fact of her life, not the whole subject of the book.

  37. @ Juliebean: Yeah, I’m sad too about those being out of print. Luckily ABE/Bookfinder exists.

    @ Christine Whelan: Ah, Belinda’s Bouquet! Now that you mention it, I remember that one from my preschool teacher days in the early 1990s. Very didactic but the right message. (And yes, it’s great to see same sex parents in a book where that’s not the blatant message.)

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