CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 6. . . . October 13, 2017
Annie, Lillemor, and Lilianne are best friends for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they can speak more than one language (Annie made hers up, but she is pretty sure it still counts), they are in the same grade at school, and they like the same activities, including singing. One day, the girls’ teacher makes an announcement that gets them very excited – a school talent show! The trio decides to hold a group meeting to decide on the crucial details of their performance: their song choice, costumes, group roles, and group name. As the meeting goes on, Lillemor and Lilianne start to notice that their opinions are not being valued by Annie and that her attitude is more along the lines of “me, me, me” rather than “us, us, us”. As a result, the group decides to split up. But Annie soon realizes that the process would be much more fun with her best friends by her side. Readers will be left wondering if Annie will make things right before it is too late to earn her friends’ forgiveness and for them to perform together as a group.
Me, Me, Me is the second instalment by author Annika Dunklee and illustrator Lori Joy Smith that centres on the friendship of the charming trio. As with its predecessor, Me, Too!, Me, Me, Me is a sweet and lighthearted story of friendship that imparts important messages about teamwork, inclusiveness, and thinking of the feelings of others.
Me, Me, Me brings forth several key lessons for children in the target age range, and it does so in a clear, yet gentle way that will allow children to come to their own conclusions naturally, without it being forced upon them. Through the pairing of the narration and illustrations, readers, along with Annie, are likely to come to the realization that, in this situation, a group of stars is better than a solo one. Readers are apt to put themselves in the characters’ shoes, developing empathy and learning lessons about friendship, teamwork, cooperation, respecting and valuing others’ opinions, and the perils of self-centeredness along the way.
The book does a strong job of demonstrating diversity through both the text and illustrations. In addition to English, the book includes some text in both Swedish and French with translations. Additionally, the girls each have unique appearances, hair, and clothing styles. They also have different ideas, opinions, interests, strengths, and talents, as demonstrated in the story. These diverse details demonstrate to readers that we do not have to be exactly the same as our peers to be the best of friends.
Dunklee uses the written text to capture readers’ attention in several ways. She uses a variety of playful fonts which match the tone of the story and gain interest, and she effectively combines the narrated text and speech bubbles for the dialogue in the perfect balance on each page. Furthermore, children will have fun learning a few words in French and Swedish by using the translations found in the margins.
Smith’s artwork, rendered digitally, perfectly complements the jovial feel of the written text. The warm, cheery illustrations have soft, rounded edges and imperfectly drawn and shaded lines, which add to the whimsical tone of the book. A colourful palette of pinks, purples, blues, greens, and yellows is used consistently throughout the book, further adding to the playful story.
Me, Me, Me is successful in being a lighthearted, fun text that also covers some key lessons about friendship, teamwork, and respect. Readers will have fun exploring the visual and textual cues as the characters express their feelings and mend their friendship. Children are likely to learn about diversity and develop empathy for the characters in the story as they follow their journey and put themselves in their shoes, perhaps reflecting upon their own friendships through discussion with the adults in their lives. Me, Me, Me would be a worthy addition to any classroom, school, or home library.
Chasity Findlay, a high school English language arts teacher in Winnipeg, MB, is a recent graduate of the Master of Education program at the University of Manitoba.