Meet Janine. She is one of a kind! Janine dresses a little different, remembers random facts, reads the dictionary for fun, and has her own style of cheering. Nobody does things the way Janine does things! One girl in Janine's class is throwing a party and all the COOL kids are invited. But Janine is not cool. Some kids think she is strange and want her to change. Will Janine change or just be her spectacular self? In this charming story, Maryann Cocca-Leffler uses her own daughter as inspiration for a delightfully spunky character. Janine Leffler focuses on the positive while navigating life with disabilities. She has become a role model to children and adults, encouraging them to focus on abilities and promoting respect, tolerance, and kindness.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2015)

ISBN-10: 0807537543

ISBN-13: 978-0807537541

Product Dimensions: 8 x 10 inches


Publisher’s Weekly:

Cocca-Leffler introduces an unconventional girl named Janine who stays her own course, even though it deviates from those of her classmates. She sings by herself on the bus, talks to her imaginary friend, proudly displays her retention of statistics, and dresses in an eclectic style that includes mismatched socks, patched overalls, and four pigtails. Naturally courteous and openhearted, Janine cheerfully deflects the taunts of her peers and refutes the suggestion that she has to change (“I do not! I like me”). When she isn’t invited to her chief tormentor’s party (“It’s only for cool kids”), Janine shouts out an open invitation to her own party; readers will have seen how Janine’s generosity and kindness have gradually won over her classmates, so it’s no surprise that all of them (save one) take her up on her offer. Cocca-Leffler’s portrayals of her heroine illuminate her thoughtfulness, resilience, and self-assuredness, and while the story’s message is far from subtle, it may encourage children who don’t fit in (and wouldn’t have it any other way). Ages 4–7. (Mar.)


A slightly new twist on the kid-getting-bullied story. Janine is certainly her own girl. She sings loudly on the bus, talks to her imaginary friend, and remembers unusual things like the number of steps from here to there and classmates’ phone numbers. While everyone else is playing, Janine reads the dictionary or eavesdrops. One day, while she appears to be making a list, she overhears a classmate who is passing out a party invitation. She is quickly told that the party is “only for COOL kids!” (Among the depicted “cool kids” are an Asian-American girl, an African-American girl and a boy whose skin is relatively dark.) The birthday girl mocks Janine’s style, insulting everything from her fancy vocabulary to her choice of friends: “Janine, you are STRANGE! You have to CHANGE!” In the background, the “cool kids” become progressively more uncomfortable with the birthday girl’s meanness, so when Janine invites all the kids to a party of her own, they are poised to accept eagerly. It’s nice to examine how a group can choose kindness and thus take away a bully’s power. Charming illustrations highlight Janine’s independent style and unfailing optimism. Teachers looking for a positive solution should reach for this one. Children will enjoy knowing that Janine is actually the author’s daughter.

An optimistic but nevertheless real solution to a common school problem. (Picture book. 5-9)