Reviews for Shrinking Violet


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 2001
Ages 5-8. Violet is the quintessential shy worrywart. "I am allergic to attention," she writes privately, and constant teasing by obnoxious classmate Irwin mortifies her. But she notices and remembers everything, which translates into a talent for mimicry that her best friend Opal encourages. Violet gets her chance to shine publicly when a wise teacher casts her as the disembodied voice of space in a school play. From offstage, Violet steals the show with her perfectly timed imitations, showing up Irwin at the same time. In wry, well-paced prose, Best, the author of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! (1999), a Booklist Editor's Choice selection, tells a good-natured story about discovering strengths and overcoming insecurity. Potter's charming, signature-style illustrations, filled with wacky angles and proportions, rich colors, and slightly nostalgic details, extend the story's drama and warmth. ((Reviewed August 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Spring
In this perceptive story about shyness, Violet's teacher and friends gently try to ease her out of her self-consciousness, while obnoxious classmate Irwin takes the opposite tack. Potter's slightly offbeat caricatures are ideal for demonstrating what Violet [cf2]is[cf1] comfortable doing--observing. A backstage part as the narrator in a school play serves the dual purpose of boosting Violet's confidence and besting Irwin. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #5
In this perceptive story about shyness, the creators of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! (rev. 11/99) contend that there's nothing wrong with living life behind the scenes. When other people pay attention to Violet, she doesn't shrink, exactly. But she does "itch and scratch and twirl her hair." Her teacher and friends gently try to ease her out of her self-consciousness, while obnoxious classmate Irwin takes the opposite tack. "'You have hairy arms!'" he yells in front of Violet's neighbors as part of his persistent-and successful-campaign to make her squirm. The spindly-limbed, egg-headed figures of Potter's paintings easily suggest awkwardness, and the slightly offbeat caricatures are ideal for demonstrating what Violet is comfortable doing-observing. A vignette of Violet in the pool, where "she knew the fast swimmers from the slow ones," shows her gliding smoothly through the water with a snorkel, eyes wide open behind her goggles, like a submarine on a spy mission. A backstage part as the narrator in a school play serves the dual purpose of boosting Violet's confidence and besting the obnoxious Irwin. It's perhaps optimistic to believe Violet's triumph would cause her self-consciousness to vanish, the way it does in the end; but nice that Violet doesn't have to come out to take a bow. In her role as Lady Space, she remains offstage, "dark and mysterious," just the way she likes it. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine

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Kirkus Reviews 2001 June #1
The creators of Three Cheers For Catherine the Great (1999) deal inventively with an all-too-common situation in this tale of a shy child finding the inner stuff to withstand a bully's taunts. Classmate Irwin's sly comments about fat knees and hairy arms have Violet nervously fingering her hair and trying to disappear. An upcoming class play about the planets looks like just another chance for Irwin to make her wilt in public, until her understanding teacher gives her the role of Lady Space, an offstage, invisible announcer. Better yet, when Irwin loses his concentration during the performance, Violet talks him back with unflattering ad-libs that sound like part of the script. Whether in school dress or globular planet costume, Potter's figures seem to dance across the pages, showing a lively range of feelings through expression and body language. In the end, Irwin actually thanks Violet in private, and though he continues to rag on her in public, she's gained enough self-confidence to ignore him. Wallflowers of all stripes will enjoy watching Violet putting Irwin in his place without raising the hostility level-a tricky, but effective, strategy. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright 2001 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 July #1
Potter's piquant watercolors put the crowning touch on this humorous tale of a shy child who saves her school play from disaster. The aptly named Violet hates to be the center of attention. It makes her "itch and scratch and twirl her hair" and wish she could shrink away. Though she has other talents she's observant and a great mimic she opts out of the school flag parade and avoids making waves in the swimming pool or "swallowing sounds at snack time." She especially dislikes it when Irwin draws attention to her, announcing that she has fat knees and smells like "deadly sewer gas." But during the class play about the solar system (for which her teacher assigns her the offstage part of the narrator, Lady Space), Violet chooses the high road: when Irwin forgets his lines, she mimics his voice and saves the day. In another romp from the creators of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, Best zeroes in on a familiar childhood emotion with insight and flair. Potter's whimsical characters, with their toothpick legs, tiny feet and expressive faces, cavort across the pages in a flurry of muted colors (don't miss Violet's impersonation of the Statue of Liberty). Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2001 August
K-Gr 2-Violet is painfully shy and has always avoided anything that will draw attention to herself. She does not make waves in the swimming pool, swallowing sounds at snack time, or her voice heard in the Salute to Spring concert. When she is noticed despite her efforts, she wishes she could shrink away and writes "I am allergic to attention" on her hand. The situation is exacerbated by Irwin, whose main delight is in teasing her. The thought of having to participate in the class play terrifies her, until a refreshingly sensitive teacher comes up with a solution that not only comfortably places her center stage but also allows her to see Irwin in a different light. Best does an admirable job of fleshing out Violet's character, allowing readers to see the intelligent and funny child that her peers cannot, and makes a strong but subtle case for shyness being understood and accommodated instead of judged. Potter's pleasantly quirky illustrations are particularly effective in their composition. Violet is often placed facing out, as if making a sympathetic connection with her readers. Whether shared one-on-one or in a group, this is a first-class choice.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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