Lili Macaroni Reviews

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

Cover: Lili Macaroni Author: Nicole Testa Illustrator: Annie Boulanger Publisher: Pajama Press“Self-confidence is hard to come by when classmates make fun of the things that make Lili Macaroni herself….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. Lili and her family are white; there is one black classmate. From Québec, a wonderfully empowering message to be yourself, with a strategy to ease heartache added for good measure.”

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School Library Journal

“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.
—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

Read the full review in the September 2019 issue of School Library Journal

Foreword Reviews

“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.”

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ILA Literacy Daily, “Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding”

“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. Following are some recently published books that are good choices for reading aloud to foster discussion as well as for independent reading….Lili is fortunate to have an understanding teacher in Mrs. Tamara, who hugs her when she shares her feelings and her polka dotted butterfly. Her classmates feel guilty about what they’ve done, and they come back to class after the weekend with their own butterflies.”

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Montreal Gazette

“For those of you with children who are about to start school, or return to class, here are some picture books — both new publications and recent noteworthy titles, generally aimed at ages four to seven — that might ease the transition. If nothing else, sharing them with your youngsters may prompt some of your own recollections and give you both something to talk about.

Lili Macaroni, by Nicole Testa and illustrated by Annie Boulanger (Pajama Press) — both Quebecers — tells the story of a cheerful, rambunctious redhead who discovers, when she starts school, that not everyone is kind….she 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.”

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CM Magazine

“Nicole Testa writes Lili Macaroni’s name in a unique orange, cursive font throughout the text. Even when Lili feels like erasing herself and reimagines her life with a new image, she still knows deep down that she must stay true to who she is—Lili Macaroni. Illustrator Annie Boulanger uses fun, playful colours to match Lili’s personality with the exception of a gloomy, grey colour palette on the pages when Lili’s heart is aching.

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. Lili Macaroni would still be 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….Recommended.”
—Andrea Boyd is an early years’ teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

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Youth Services Book Review

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

What did you like about the book? Little red-haired Lili is happy to have hair just like her Mom’s ‘I am the way I am. I’m Lili Macaroni.’ She makes up songs and reads her favorite books out loud. She draws polka-dotted butterflies and counts stars at night. When she begins school, she is happy until other kids make fun of her name calling her Macaroni-and-cheese and then make fun of her wild red hair and her freckles….With her Dad’s help she draws a beautiful polka-dotted butterfly, cuts it out and pins it to her shoulder for the next day at school. She explains to the teacher why she has done this and then to the rest of the class. The following day many of the children come in with their own butterflies pinned to their shoulders. Lili proves herself to be strong, courageous and resilient. The artwork is wonderful in expressing the emotions of Lili and the students.”
—Katrina Yurenka, Manager, Youth Services Book Review

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Youth Services Book Review

What did you like about the book? This book definitely fits the social-emotional category of picture books….Readers would likely be able to use some of [Lili’s] strategies in their own lives. The end of the book also lists some related activities readers could try, including making their own butterfly, building positive self-esteem while creating a self-portrait, and playing ‘Follow the (Kind) Leader’ with friends….

To whom would you recommend this book? Great for teachers or families to read with children as an introduction to discuss self-esteem, bullying, and heartache. Read-alike for Chrysanthemum (by Kevin Henkes). Best for ages 4-7-ish.”
—Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Teasing can be playful but it can also be bullying and very young children don’t always know when one has become the other. In the mean while, there are little ones like Lili who must endure humiliating comments about their physical appearance and then wish they were anyone other than themselves. Fortunately, 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.

Quebec illustrator Annie Boulanger, who illustrated Nicole Testa’s French-language Lili Macaroni: Je suis comme je suis! (Dominique et compagnie, 2017), gives Lili all the attributes the text imbues her with. She’s a little wild, a lot of fun, and a whole lot of smart. She’s colourful and inquisitive and enthusiastic. But when she’s sad, the light is gone from her eyes and her clothing and the page.

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.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“I have been reading this new book almost every day since it arrived in the mail. There’s a great reason for that. My granddaughters are here to visit this month, and they love listening to it before bed each night….The colorful illustrations help children know and appreciate Lili’s personality; they only change with the sadness she feels. We talked about the changing perspectives and how seeing something from above was an interesting way to watch what the children were doing. Many small details held our attention and provided for discussion.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“This picture brings to life the issues surrounding bullying….When she considers how to feel better, her father encourages her to draw her favourite kind of butterfly, she takes her butterfly to school and tells her class why she has it, and why she felt bad before she made it. This is good, showing people how sharing feelings can make others aware of a problem they may not have noticed. Her teacher handles it well, and things get better at school. Lili now has learned one way to cope with her feelings.

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

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