LillyBelle: A Damsel NOT in Distress by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz

LillyBelle: A Damsel NOT in Distress by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz. Boyds Mills Press, 9781635922967, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? This is a silly but empowering story about LillyBelle, who is taught at Lady Frilly’s School for Damsels to wait patiently to be rescued anytime she is captured. LillyBelle likes many other things about being a damsel (though not usually in the most traditional ways), but is not ready to follow this rule. After being captured three times, by a witch, a giant, and an ogre, she instead teaches them things she knows before leaving freely. The story winds up nicely, with LillyBelle teaching the other damsels at school how to be a damsel NOT in distress and becoming friends with the witch, giant, and ogre. The lesson of female empowerment is clear but comes across through a humorous fractured fairy tale. Young readers will enjoy the repeating lines each time LillyBelle is captured – “LillyBelle squirmed. LillyBelle screeched! She puffed. She protested! Until … Kerplunk!” The color and detail in the digital illustrations add to the emotions of fear, heroism, and friendship. 

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who enjoy fairy tales or fractured fairy tales. Read-alike for The Princess and the Pony (Beaton). 

Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians

Where would you shelve it? Picture books 

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

Date of review: Jan. 17, 2021

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