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🟢 Kid Lit Book Review: Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild

Love, Violet written by Charlotte Sullivan Wild,

Illustrated by Charlene Chua

A Review by Catherine Taunton

“All day long, Violet’s stomach lurched. What if Violet couldn’t give her valentine? What if Mira didn’t want her valentine? What if … they never adventured?”

In Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, we see Violet create, contemplate, and inevitably give her (then crushed) valentine to her crush, Mira. This book digs into the feelings of adoration that Violet carries for Mira. We see Violet’s anxiety about approaching Mira, how she deals with confrontations with her classmates, and how she eventually gets over her fears to give Mira her valentine. At the beginning of the story, we see how she imagines her adventures with Mira, and what she wants to do once they become friends. We also discover that she may be a bit too anxious to ever talk or be around Mira. She tends to run and get a little shy. Violet got a burst of inspiration and decided to make Mira a valentine, putting her heart and soul (lots of glitter and hearts) into the creation. As Valentine’s Day comes around, Violet is nervous. She doesn’t think Mira will want her valentine.

Violet is constantly dealing with second thoughts and self-doubt in the classroom, during Valentine's handouts, and even at recess. Despite all of Mira’s attempts to talk with Violet, she still gets too shy to respond. Finally, outside, as she hears Mira’s laugh, she gets the guts to give her valentine to Mira. Unfortunately, the wind is out to get her, and decides to blow it out of her hat and under the feet of a stampede of running children. Despite its disastrous state, she finally gives Mira the valentine with a little bit of prompting, and even receives a custom locket in return! After all of her doubt and worry, Violet finally got to go on her adventure with Mira. 

This book is fantastic because it is written by a queer woman, so we know that Violet’s identity intersects with that of the author. There are a variety of races, genders, and sexualities represented in the book both through the illustrations and the storyline. While Violet’s gender identity is never explicitly stated, we see she likes Mira and goes about expressing that through her valentine. It’s all very accepting and pretty realistic for how it is at that age. Nothing negative about Violet’s crush on Mira is ever indicated in the children’s responses, and the book makes it seem just like any other crush an elementary student would have. The classroom is full of a diverse range of students and not one looks the same. Everyone interacts with each other just as they would in any other elementary school classroom. The author does a good job of capturing how children behave in the scene when Violet slips but then continues about their day. The students laugh and joke while Mira checks on Violet, to show that she cares, but continues about her day like normal. Forgetting about Violet’s little incident highlights that while it may feel like the end of the world to her, nothing really matters in the grand scheme of things with how short of an attention span children really have.

The illustrations are also very eye-catching and tend to play into how Violet is feeling at the moment. They are beautiful, vibrant, and very imaginative in some scenes. She always visually isolates Violet and Mira during their interactions throughout the book which really encompasses Violet’s fascination with Mira and how she always feels like they’re the only two people in the world. This also does a good job of keeping the attention on the two girls and how their relationship evolves throughout the story. The use of negative space also helps emphasize the emotions felt by Violet and Mira. The illustrations are easy to follow with your eyes and help guide the story along with the words. The illustrator uses direction cleverly to help guide you through the pages while still being able to take in the imagery.

I would recommend this book to all children purely to normalize the idea of various gender identities and expressions early on in childhood. Doing so is important because they’ll be seeing it out in the world anyway, so introducing it in a way that they can comprehend is useful and important. The author addresses the topic of sexuality without overtly discussing it with adult language and formulates it in a story that is easy for kids to follow. Everything seen and expressed in the story is accurate so there is no risk of misinformation other than that a crush may not always reciprocate your feelings. Allowing children to have access to this knowledge will lead to a more open and accepting society, no matter what role the child may play as an adult. 



A Page from Love, Violet

Catherine Taunton was a student review writer working with Reading Is Resistance at Portland State University in partnership with Teaching for Change's Social Justice Books (SJB) Project.



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