Review of Just like Millie

Just like Millie Just like Millie
by Lauren Castillo; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
4/24    9781536224818    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781536237122    $17.99

In this comforting story, a young girl and her mother move to a cozy apartment in a new city where she happily plays by herself whenever her mom has to work in the next room. When Mom suggests going to the park to meet other kids, she isn’t interested; her response to the suggestion of a playdate with neighbors is a resounding “NO.” An invitation to join a bookstore storytime induces panic, and the girl cries “till [her] face was bright red.” One day they visit an animal shelter, where they adopt a sweet and affectionate dog. Millie quickly befriends everyone they meet on their walks, and the girl slowly grows more comfortable with new people and pups. Castillo’s ink, watercolor, and soft pastel illustrations show the girl’s budding courage: at first she’s always glued to Mom, but with every encounter her face and posture relax more until she finds herself smiling and even waving hello. At a dog park, Millie races off to make friends; taking a cue from her affable dog, the girl spots another timid girl and goes over to say hello, just like Millie. In a final, heartwarming illustration, both girls stride along confidently, holding their dogs’ leashes, a few small but meaningful steps ahead of their moms. The way in which Castillo’s characters stand out against the paler backgrounds, with bolder black outlines filled with robust colors, cleverly helps young audiences focus in on minute but crucial changes in facial expression and body language.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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