Millie Fierce

Jane Manning. Philomel, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25642-4
Strong-minded picture-book heroines abound, but not many books ask what’s behind the bluster—or represent it with such deliciousness. Quiet, mild-mannered Millie, who never misbehaves, is forced to think again after three girls from school stroll right over her sidewalk chalk drawing. “That’s me,” she says, pondering the smudge they’ve left behind. Then a new thought dawns: “I’m not a smudge,” she announces. Watching Millie become Millie Fierce provides most of the story’s laughs; with a fiendish look in her eyes, she files “each of her nails to a tiny point,” paints the dog’s face blue, and dances on the furniture. Manning’s (Ten Little Goblins) watercolors bubble over with sybaritic delight; in one, Millie lies languidly on a school desk, dumping jelly beans all over the floor. Eventually, Millie is forced to work out the difference between strength of character and fierceness that hurts people, and she reforms (almost). An unexpected Yeatsian lilt to Manning’s writing (“Millie frizzed out her hair and made the crazy eye”) lifts the text out of the ordinary; her powers of observation set it apart, too. Ages 3–7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2012
Release date: 08/16/2012
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