Written by Julianne Moore, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2007
Once upon a time there was a little girl who was just like everybody else.
What made this author famous? Julianne Moore is an Academy Award-winning actress, known for her performances in such movies as The Kids Are All Right and Still Alice.
There are a couple of ways that this little girl is not like everyone else. She has red hair and freckles. People always comment on them and they nickname her Freckleface Strawberry. She tries several methods for removing her freckles, including lemon juice and markers, but nothing seemed to help. She pulls a ski mask over her head and goes to school. Sure enough, no one mentions her freckles, but no one talks to her, either. On the playground, she overhears her classmates talking about how much they miss her. The ski mask is making her hot, so she takes it off, much to the delight of a nearby baby who starts laughing. The baby’s mom tells her that she once had freckles, but that they went away when she grew up. Freckleface Strawberry’s friends are happy to see her back and she realizes it doesn’t matter what she looks like, as long as she has good friends.
I’m sure it’s no shock that author Julianne Moore drew from her own red-haired, freckle-faced childhood for inspiration for this book. (Apparently, Freckleface Strawberry was her childhood nickname.) The book was so successful that it was followed by two additional stories and was even made into an off-Broadway musical. I looked online for reviews from red-haired people with freckles, to get an idea how they perceived the story, and found mostly positive comments, especially from parents.
LeUyen Pham’s artwork was done using a Japanese brush pen and digital color, in shades of yellow, green, pink and brown. The illustrations have a cute vintage feel to them that enhances the story and the use of color plays up Freckleface’s red hair perfectly. At the end of the book, we see Freckleface as an adult who still has freckles, but has made peace with them. The blurbs on the inside back cover feature pictures of the author and illustrator as children, which is a really neat way to connect the story to Ms. Moore’s childhood.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that everything you are, the good and the bad, goes into making you the unique and awesome person you are.