I’m very picky about things like books, movies, and television shows. Something has to be really good for me to like it. When I first ordered How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers by Julia Cook, I admit that I was very excited.
I like Julia Cook’s children’s books because they always teach a valuable lesson for children while keeping it fun, like how to keep from blurting out in class, maintaining self-control, and the difference in tattling and keeping yourself or your friends safe. Julia Cook, who has authored more than 50 books for children and teachers, is a former teacher and school counselor with a master’s degree in Elementary School Counseling. She writes books for children that keep them laughing while learning to solve their own problems, use better behavior, and develop healthy relationships.
In the book’s Foreward, it states, “How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers uses a creative approach to speak to children who may be currently struggling with body-image concerns. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, it is important that adults understand how to use this book effectively. This story is written in a manner that gives children an opportunity to apply the characters’ experiences to their own lives. It also demonstrates appropriate adult responses that encourage the development of healthy eating habits.”
Bluebird, who is the main character in this story, wants to flutter like the most popular bird in class, Hummingbird. Bluebird, Chicken, and Owl all try so very hard to flutter like the hummingbird, but each of them just aren’t able to do it. Hummingbird tells Bluebird that the reason she isn’t able to flutter like her is because her body is “too frumpy,” her wing span’s too wide, and her feathers look “lumpy.” Hummingbird even advises Bluebird to go on a diet and work out at the gym so her body could be thin.
So Bluebird goes on a strict diet where she barely eats, and she works out, just like the hummingbird told her. Eventually, Bluebird begins losing her feathers and not feeling so well. Her mom finds out about what she has been doing and teaches her about balance and having a healthy “Food Voice.” Bluebird begins to learn how to find balance and even finds out that she isn’t supposed to flutter like a hummingbird because she is a bluebird, and bluebirds are meant to soar. Near the ending of the book, Bluebird is seen talking to a counselor and is beginning to feel better about herself, though some days are still harder than others.
Just as I have liked several other books authored by Julia Cook, I felt this one was a winner as well. It is beautifully illustrated by Anita Dufalla, which makes the book even more appealing to readers. I felt the book’s message about body image, good self-esteem, and healthy eating was definitely one that many children of today need to hear. The book is recommended for third graders and older, but I think a more appropriate age recommendation would be fourth grade to sixth grade. I’m not sure I can see a child in middle school not thinking that the book is too young for him or her.
I do think the book started out really strong and quite engrossing and then began to slack off as soon as Bluebird’s mother learned of her body image issues. Then it seemed the book was quick to rush to the end. I’m not sure I liked the last few pages where Bluebird is seen talking to her counselor, and I am a counselor. Maybe it was the way things were worded, but it just seemed kind of hokey, not that seeing a counselor isn’t an excellent idea for someone having problems with their body image. After I read the book, I looked back at the amazon.com reviews that others had written and apparently there were others who felt the same way too.
Although the ending seemed kind of abrupt and rushed, I still felt that this was a good book, particularly for the children in which it was written for – those with body image issues. Children with low self-esteem could also benefit from the book, though it may not be appropriate for everyone. Body image can be a sensitive topic, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Children in elementary grades are now dieting excessively and trying to lose weight, and most of them, even if a weight issue exists, have little idea as to how to eat and exercise healthily and with appropriate balance. It’s certainly a topic that should be addressed.