Lili Macaroni cover

By Nicole Testa & Annie Boulanger

Lili Macaroni

An accessible picture book about resilience, self-esteem, and the power of talking about emotions

Lili Macaroni loves drawing butterflies, counting the stars, and being exactly who she is—Lili Macaroni. That is, until she starts kindergarten. There her classmates tell her that her hair is like a pumpkin, her eyes are squinty blueberries, and her laugh is like a parrot’s squawk. She has never felt such unhappiness before. It makes her want to erase herself and draw a brand new Lili. Then she reconsiders. Does she really want to erase her hair that’s just like Mom’s? Her eyes just like Grandma’s? Her Grandpa’s infectious laugh?

With her parents’ help, she creates a polka-dotted butterfly to wear at her collar, publicly announcing her own resilience and symbolically letting her sorrows be flown away. And when she explains the butterfly to her classmates, Lili discovers she has begun a powerful conversation, and that everyone has some trouble to be carried away on butterfly wings.

In this accessible exploration of emotions and self-esteem, Nicole Testa and Annie Boulanger create a relatable heroine with inborn ingenuity and warm family support.

Available In


Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-093-2
List Price: $19.95 CAD / $17.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 10.00 x 10.00 inches / 25.4 x 25.4cm
Pages: 32

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 20

Not yet available

Paperback / softback

Ages 4-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-239-4
List Price: $13.95 CAD / $11.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 9.00 x 9.00 inches / 22.86 x 22.86cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: February 1, 2022

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 90

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award (Winner) (Canada)
  • 2022 Nevada Young Reader’s Choice Award (Nominated) (United States)
  • 2020 Bank Street Best Book (Commended) (United States)
  • 2020 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Spring (Commended) (Canada)
  • 2017 Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général (Short-listed) (Canada)


Praise for Lili Macaroni

2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Picture Book Award Winner

2022 Nevada Young Reader’s Choice Award Nominee

2020 Bank Street Best Book selection

2020 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Spring Selection

★ STARRED REVIEW “Boulanger’s changing perspectives and use of shadows to stand in for other kids’ teasing set the mood, Lili’s exuberant brightness changing to more somber tones with her sadness….From Québec, a wonderfully empowering message to be yourself, with a strategy to ease heartache added for good measure.”—Kirkus Starred Review

“The resolution isn’t in the other children being kinder or abandoning their teasing. Although that is implied, the resolution that matters comes from within Lili as she draws upon her own inherent strength and resilience to overcome life’s challenges. The illustrations are colorful and engaging, with clean lines and a contemporary feeling. VERDICT A comforting tale of self-acceptance following the tradition of Kevin Henkes’s Chrysanthemum and Patty Lovell’s Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon.”—School Library Journal

“Sunny illustrations and Lili’s infectious smile stand out as she spreads positivity with honest conversations, creative solutions, and a homemade paper butterfly perched on her shoulder….Through [Lili Macaroni], children will learn the importance of spreading kindness.”—Foreword Reviews

“Although it might not be a part of the Common Core State Standards or easy to measure, teaching our students compassion, empathy, and understanding is an important part of the curriculum….Lili is fortunate to have an understanding teacher in Mrs. Tamara, who hugs her when she shares her feelings and her polka dotted butterfly.”—ILA Literacy Daily, “Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding”

“Rating: E…Full page illustrations show a mix of realistic and cartoon styled artwork.”—Resource Links

“Featuring a deftly crafted social message of individual worthwhileness, Lili Macaroni is an utterly charming and entertaining picture book story for children ages 4-7 that is especially commended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.”—Midwest Book Review

Lili Macaroni sends the message to children that they should be always stay true to who they are, no matter what others say or think, and that there are always solutions to help mend a broken heart….[A] suitable addition to home collections and kindergarten classroom libraries due to the storyline. In particular, it would be a useful book to teach resilience and empathy.”—CM Magazine

“Lili proves herself to be strong, courageous and resilient. The artwork is wonderful in expressing the emotions of Lili and the students.”—Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review

“Great for teachers or families to read with children as an introduction to discuss self-esteem, bullying, and heartache. Read-alike for Chrysanthemum.”—Sarah Bickel, Youth Services Book Review

“For those of you with children who are about to start school, or return to class, here are some picture books…that might ease the transition…Teased about her name, the colour of her hair and her blueberry-blue eyes, [Lili Macaroni] starts to pull away from the rest of the kids and grows unhappy at school — until her father suggests she create one of the polka-dot butterflies she likes to draw. It lifts her spirits, and when she explains to her teacher and classmates why she’s wearing it on her shoulder, the results make school a much happier place for Lili.”—Montreal Gazette, “Back to school: These picture books are in a class of their own”

“Author Nicole Testa surrounds Lili with some very astute adults who recognize the little girl’s need to feel good about being herself. Without hoovering up her bad feelings or demanding the school take action, they allow Lili to make her coping strategy work for her. It’s positive and it’s empowering….For young children going off to school for the first time, Lili Macaroni will help prepare them to recognize teasing that is insensitive and harmful and help them handle it for themselves as well as for others.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“My granddaughters are here to visit this month, and they love listening to [Lili Macaroni] before bed each night….The colorful illustrations help children know and appreciate Lili’s personality; they only change with the sadness she feels….Many small details held our attention and provided for discussion.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“The book includes some activities inspired by this story at the back, a great idea for kids struggling with negativity.”—Canadian Bookworm

“We rated this book: [5/5] I love this book! In the first few pages, Lili sounds just like me! When she went to school and people were making her feel sad, that made me feel really really sad….I really like her dad’s idea to make a butterfly! I love that this book has instructions on how to make my own butterfly!”—Kids’ Book Buzz, Bentley, Age 5

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Additional Resources


Teaching Guide

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