Let’s Celebrate Being Different
Lainey Dee (author) Dhiraj Navlakhi (illustrator)
ShieldCrest Publishing (2022)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (10/2022)
“Let’s Celebrate Being Different” by Lainey Dee, illustrated by Dhiraj Navlakhi, is an endearing and encouraging children’s book about recognizing and loving the differences you find in yourself and others.
The main character is Todd, who certainly is different from other animals. He’s a bird, and his head is that of a bird, his belly is that of a bear, and his legs are those of a tiger. Even though his family cares about him, these differences cause him to believe that he is a misfit. He feels awkward and doesn’t have the social skills to make many friends. But his grandmother gives him some encouraging words when he visits her at her house. She lets him know that it’s fine to be different from others. This gives Todd courage to go to the Friday Night Club, where other animals hang out with their friends. This will be his test. Does he have the inner strength to like himself for who he is, differences and all? Can he make new friends and be at peace with himself?
Cleverly using a variety of animal features, Dee creates a story and a character that will appeal to children and adults alike, especially to those who can relate to feeling different, or like an outsider. This is an important lesson for today, and a great way to get the point across. The artwork is amazing and adds so much to the already-fantastic story.
A lot of children believe they don’t belong because they feel different and compare themselves to others. Or, perhaps these differences are targeted by bullies or those who don’t understand. Self-acceptance is always a good lesson to learn, for those who feel different, and for those who treat others badly because of those differences. Tolerance is a wonderful message for children to learn early, and this book perfectly demonstrates the lesson.
Todd looks and acts really cool the way he is, regardless of what he or anyone else thinks. Yes, he’s different, but that’s what makes him so striking. And I love the relationship he has with his grandmother. She herself is very striking as she irons Todd’s clothes. Todd’s reactions and emotions, and how he expresses them on his way to the Friday Night Club, are realistic and understandable. The author gets right to the heart of the ideas, and gets them across in sensitive ways, and the supporting characters, which are other birds, play an instrumental role in bringing readers into the story, and are also colorfully rendered by the artist.
For a children’s book full of heart and warmth that would be a wonderful addition to any home or classroom, don’t pass up “Let’s Celebrate Being Different” by Lainey Dee.
Hi Thank you for your detailed review. I wrote the story because I was bullied at work and wanted to use animals in different situations to highlight and spark discussions about what is not acceptable ie laughing at others because they are different.