My children and I absolutely loved this book. They all loved the character of Zafera, and there is a lot to like. She is sure of herself and happy with who she is in spite of some teasing. But my favorite part of this story is actually the "mean" kids. So many authors typecast bullies as mean spirited down to the core. As a mother of good kids (I promise), I have seen how no one is immune to the pull of the occasional mean-spirited talk, even my little "angels". Teasing and gossip need to be addressed with all children before it becomes a character trait. So what I liked about The Dirt Girl is that the "bullies" didn't STAY bullies. They also didn't just stay away and get brushed off by Zafera as unimportant. Intead, she made an effort to befriend them. Upon the first (of many) readings, my kids were worried the they would accept Zafera's invitation only to spoil her party. So common is the typical unredeemable "bully" character, I guess. Thankfully, they saw Zafera for the unique, beautiful character she is, and learned to appreciate her for it. So the beauty of this book is not just in Zafera's happy confidence, but also in the idea that chidren are good at heart, and will tend towards goodness if they are only given a little encouragement to not fear what is different.
I absolutely adored the illustrations in this book! They are stunning with vibrant colors and wonderful details for the kids to really look at and enjoy!
Zafera is starting school for the first time. She’s different than the other children, but she doesn’t know it. They give her weird looks and talk about her, but she doesn’t notice any of it. She doesn’t know that the twigs in her hair and dirt on her clothes make her different. She’s a happy, healthy girl happy to be experiencing school and other children.
It’s time for her birthday party and she invites everyone! When the children get to the party they are all blown away by the location. Zafera’s home is beyond anything they could have ever imagined! Tucked into a hillside, it’s part of the earth. They play and explore the wonders of her home, and get to know Zafera for who she is, not what she wears.
How I Felt:
I really enjoyed the message this story provides. I liked that the children were not horrible to Zafera, it was more that they didn’t understand her. Her birthday party provided a wonderful opportunity for the children to see her in her own setting, and appreciate her.
The main character, Zafera, is a friendly, happy girl. I loved that she doesn’t even notice the looks and off-putting behavior of the other children. Her birthday invitation offered all the children a chance to get to know her, and I liked that they found they enjoyed Zafera’s company and friendship.
The illustrations were absolutely wonderful. We must have spent 10 minutes looking at Zafera’s house. I couldn’t get my daughter to let me turn the page! Each page is drawn and colored perfectly, and it made the book come to life as we read.
I’m absolutely rating this book a 5 star because it’s lovely and has a great story, however, I did not like the emphasis on Zafera becoming popular. I would like to see a bit more on the children just liking her for who she is.
Overall, I loved The Dirt Girl. The illustrations were beautiful, as was the main character. The story was lovely with a wonderful message about the importance of being who you are.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend The Dirt Girl for children in pre-k through 3rd grade. I think that any child would enjoy and get something out of this book!
Both Author Jodi Dee's new children's picture books were named Finalists in multiple categories in the 2020 International Book Awards! The Dirt Girl, Children's Mind/Body/Spirit Finalist and Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction Finalist & The Little Green Jacket, Children's Fiction, Finalist Co-Illustrated by Steve Goad. "To have your work supported and recognized is amazing. My goal in all my writing is to empower children in self-love, emotional maturity, and understanding they belong. They are all connected to a life source greater than them that supports them." - Jodi Dee #childrensbooks #awardwinner #picturebook #newbooks #selfcare #selflove
The Dirt Girl was named a winner in the prestigous 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, in the Picture Book – 4-8 Year Old category! This award "brings increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and are dedicated to supporting childhood literacy and life-long reading."