Picture Book Review: “Sweety”
Author/Illustrator: Andrea Zuill
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (2019)
Age Range: 3 -7
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She’s intense and passionate–and her peers don’t always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there? As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize–with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth– that being Sweety is actually pretty awesome. With heart and humor and a whole lot of charm, Andrea Zuill delivers a story about learning to embrace everything that makes you you–and that’s something many kids are going to relate to.
Sweety is the sweetest naked mole rat who knows who she is and what she likes. The only problem is, everyone, including her grandma thinks she’s a square peg. Even though Sweety isn’t quite sure what that means, she’s starting to understand it’s because she’s different. Sweety delights in finding out that Aunt Ruth is a square peg, too! Aunt Ruth tells Sweety to just be herself and she’ll find her “people.”
This story is very relatable for little ones and adults alike. Who hasn’t, at some time or other in their lives, felt like they were different and wished they were more like everyone else? Aptly named, Sweety is just a sweetie and I love her personality and the intensity with which she travels through life.
What I appreciate most about the story is that although Sweety does have moments of wondering “why” she is different and sometimes allows her thoughts to stray towards being more like everyone else, for the most part she is confident, strong and unapologetic for being herself. She’s most comfortable doing the things that she likes to do and interest her. That is such an important lesson for both boys and girls. And, even though she’s different, she’s still open to learning new things.
The writing is witty and sharp, and the illustrations are fabulous! This has to be one of my favorite examples of both the writing and the pictures:
We should all be more like Sweety. I recommend “Sweety” by Andrea Zuill for a fun read with a great message about not only the importance, but also the JOY of being yourself.
About the Author:
Andrea Zuill is a writer/illustrator of children’s books. She was born Bakersfield, CA and moved to the San Diego area when she married. For 20 years she was a graphic artist and at the same time Andrea created oil paintings. Her quirky figurative paintings have been exhibited in California, Texas and New York. In 2006 she started creating prints of funny and whimsical characters which led to her start in children’s books. You can learn more about Andrea at her website: https://www.andreazuill.org/
I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library. I’m working my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!