Review of Something Great

Something Great
by Jeanette Bradley; illus. by the author
Preschool    Levine Querido    40 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-64614-171-5    $18.99

Even the youngest among us knows the pain of being misunderstood. Quinn has spent the morning in their workshop making Something Great. Then it’s echoes of Krauss’s The Carrot Seed as Quinn proudly shows this creation — a milk carton with a red string — to their older sister, mother, and the cat, none of whom gets it. “It was just…itself,” Quinn laments. “Something Great!” Bradley’s mixed-media illustrations are full of soft brushstrokes in gentle shades of blue and green, creating a safe and calm atmosphere for Quinn to exist in. Queerness is baked into the story: the text doesn’t comment on the fact that Quinn uses they/them pronouns and sports a blue-grid button-down shirt with pink sneakers. The character is instead upset because no one seems to understand their artistic expression — an apt and subtle metaphor for other types of self-expression. A new neighbor sees right away just how great Something Great really is, and together the characters engage in imaginative play without having to explain or specifically define anything. Endpapers showcase a hodgepodge of art supplies and some of Quinn’s other creations, perhaps inspiring viewers to make Something Great of their own.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She has served on several book award committees, including the 2015 Caldecott Committee, and is the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library (2008).

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