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When Am I Beautiful? Review by Meg Falciani

Tonya Moreland
IllustratorJeanie Shanks Kittinger
Heart to Heart Publishing, Inc.
528 Mud Creek Road
Morgantown, KY 42261
(270) 526-5589

This hardcover 36-page book features a young girl asking her Daddy, “When am I beautiful?” Over the course of the book, her father points out all of the times she is beautiful to him. Whether she is covered in mud or jewelry, from when she first wakes up to when she falls asleep, the girl is beautiful to her father. Girls of all temperaments will see themselves featured in the story. Vibrantly colored illustrations show a beautiful use of color, light, and shade to illustrate the myriad of seemingly opposing situations in which the child finds herself. In addition, 48 hearts are tucked into the drawings. Though hidden in plain sight, many are easily overlooked if you are focusing on the text. A second, more careful look-through finds them studded throughout the story, each a reminder of the sometimes unseen yet ever-present and unwavering love that the girl's father has for her.

This book would be ideal as a read-aloud for a preschooler, a read-with-me for an emerging reader, and as a read-alone for a young tween. My daughter (age ten) read this book, because she is at the age where her appearance are becoming important. When she began reading, she did not notice the hearts until the final page where their locations are listed. Going back, she looked again and was able to find most of them, though a few eluded her until a more careful scan. She found reassurance that there is a difference between a “humble pride” putting together an appropriate outfit that demonstrates self-worth and needing to appear beautiful and worthy to others.

However, the ideas of loving at all times and the hidden hearts are not just a way to show the love between a Daddy and his little girl. The author challenges us to look deeper, deftly weaving Scriptural references into the story without becoming heavy-handed. She reminds us how all fathers see their children as beautiful. "Fearfully and wonderfully made" in His image (Ps. 139), we can't be anything but beautiful to our heavenly Father. True beauty is not found in a tube of lip gloss but in the joy that lives in our souls.

It is not difficult to understand how this book became a 2015 Illumination Awards gold medalist. When Am I Beautiful? is a book that will appeal to girls of all ages, especially young girls who are starting to discover that while the world may value a pretty face, what lies within us is what makes us "... beautiful always."

-Product Review by Meg Falciani, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2015