b1803a34179601-570f036a91e42Abigail the Whale, Davide Cali, Owlkids Books, 2016.

The title aside, I had hopes that this book for readers ages 6-8 would help reverse the body shaming of young girls. Abigail is a heavyset white girl on the swim team. As the book opens, she walks towards a group of jeering, thin white girls. They are making fun of her weight. The coach, a large, white male, does nothing to silence the bullying. He only tells Abigail, “if you want to feel like, think light.”

Abigail practices this mind-over-matter advice to think “giant” to feel big and powerful as she walks home. When confronted with getting a good night’s sleep, she thinks “hedgehog” to burrow in her bed.

The success with this mind trick continues when she thinks rocket and is able to enter the water without making a splash. The thin girls who mocked her earlier now cheer her on.

The author attempts for Abigail to reclaim the term “whale.”

The problem with that is that the story does not clearly state that bullying and body shaming is wrong. There is no clear resolution that what was happening was not okay. It instead walks that very thin line of communicating that if the overweight girl thinks about it differently, she’ll be okay.

Body shaming is not okay.

Our girls deserve better.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.