Committee for Children Blog

Book Review: Shrinking Violet

by Cari Best; Illustrated by Giselle Potter
Reading level: Kindergarten–Grade 2

Violet is allergic to attention. This fact has come to the attention of her classmate, Irwin, who takes every opportunity to torment her: “You have hairy arms,” he hisses from the bushes. And, “I will be watching your fat knees.” But there's something Irwin and the others don't know about Violet. Beneath that blushing surface resides an actress with a keen sense of humor .

When the perceptive teacher announces the parts for the upcoming class play about the solar system, Violet is pleased to learn she will have the off-stage role of Lady Space. She doesn't stop at memorizing her own lines, but commits every other actor's parts to memory as well. When Irwin as Mars spins out of control during the performance, forgetting his lines and wreaking havoc in the cosmos, guess who saves the day with her quick thinking (and a touch of her biting wit)?

Cari Best and Giselle Potter's Shrinking Violet will resonate with every child who wishes she (or he) could just shrink away from the public eye, or who has been on the receiving end of mean-spirited teasing. Violet and her best friend Opal know that she can be talented and wild and funny, but the idea of performing in front of anyone else makes Violet “itch and scratch and twirl her hair.” Readers will cheer as our heroine finds a way to take care of her problem with Irwin and strut her stuff in her own private way.

Social and Emotional Lessons in
Shrinking Violet

The emphasis on caring actions in the Second Step program is reinforced in this appealing, quirkily illustrated, highly entertaining story. Violet's friend Opal is a never-ending source of encouragement, as is her wise teacher, who comes up with the perfect role in the class play for a shy girl with hidden talents. Violet's other classmates are obviously caring and considerate; students reading this book might want to brainstorm ways in which these kids could take an even more active role in stopping Irwin from teasing Violet.

Emilie Coulter
Book Reviewer
Committee for Children