At the center of Caple's (The Wimp) skimpy yet earnest story is Hillary, a cheerful cat and aspiring actress. Though she is "a little on the round side," her mother wisely tells her not to worry, since "we come in all shapes and sizes. You are just right the way you are." Yet slim older sister Felice, obsessed with dieting and exercising, advises her sibling that she'll never make it on stage unless she loses weight. When Hillary spots an ad for an audition, she takes Felice's words to heart and, under her demanding sister's directives (tempered not one iota by their mother, who disappears after the first page), she embarks on a crash diet and a rigorous exercise regime. She has trouble sleeping and is "nervous all the time," until she attends a concert by a famous but "round" performer who inspires her to be comfortable with herself. Predictably, the newly confident young feline aces her audition, announces to Felice that "they liked me just the way I am" and she abandons her diet. The message is inarguably worthy, particularly with eating disorders on the rise, but the tale lacks spark and subtlety. The art captures Hillary's spunk and determination, yet otherwise it, too, seems to be mostly in service of driving home a lesson. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In her contemporary cat family, young Hillary is "...a little on the round side" (even matronly, as portrayed in Caple's uncomplicated line-and-watercolor illustrations). But Hillary loves to act, pretend, and have fun. Her mother tells her she is "...just right" the way she is, but lean older sister Felice cajoles her into trying to exercise and diet before she auditions for a play directed by the fabulous Nina Clophoofer. Eight pages show Hillary exercising, dieting, and becoming increasingly nervous. When she finally sees Nina Clophoofer, she realizes that Nina, too, is "round" and that size has nothing to do with talent: the actress loves her work and is good at it. Back to the regimen, says Felice. Nope, says Hillary, who makes herself a healthy snack, memorizes her lines, and wows them at the audition. The story is just long enough to get its didactic themes across-be yourself, work hard for what you want, and eat right.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
The diet revolution, formally reserved for adolescents and adults, takes front and center stage in a picture book that purports to be a lesson in self-esteem.