cover image Scarlet’s Tale

Scarlet’s Tale

Audrey Vernick, illus. by Peter Jarvis. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-368-04308-3

The titular tale is about an actual tail—“one long, fluffy, fuzzy, furry tail”—that pale-skinned human baby Scarlet is born with. But all is well within the family bubble: her parents nimbly adapt, cutting holes in the back of Scarlet’s clothes and clearing low shelves so the foxlike tail doesn’t scatter their contents. When Scarlet goes to preschool, however, her classmates and their parents stare, the classroom isn’t tail-proofed, and Scarlet finds herself playing all alone. Things start looking up when two kids notice that Scarlet’s tail gives her turbo power on the swings, and as Scarlet grows more connected and at ease in the world beyond her family, her happy tail-wagging (“back and forth super fast until it was nearly moving in circles”) is adopted by tail-less peers and townspeople alike, who “wagged their behinds” in happy solidarity. It’s a story of embracing difference in oneself and in others that’s refreshingly even-tempered and light on its toes. Vernick’s (After the Worst Thing Happens) straightforward, economic prose and Jarvis’s softly colored, deeply expressive line drawings portray the glow of unconditional love and the hurt of exclusion without being preachy about either. Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]