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ANGUS ALL AGLOW by Heather Smith


by Heather Smith ; illustrated by Alice Carter

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4598-1493-6
Publisher: Orca

Find the sparkle in your life.

Angus loves all things shiny, sparkly, and attention-grabbing. This isn’t limited to his apparel; he loves anything that has some extra razzle-dazzle: jewels, nature, and words. To Angus, sparkle is akin to an extra burst for the senses. Angus’ “sapphire-studded scissors sizzle,” and the stars above “crackle like a campfire.” Angus’ favorite bit of bling is his grandmother’s necklace—five strands of multicolored glass beads that seem to pop. When she gives him the necklace, Angus wants to show it off to his friends at school. Undeterred by his family’s mild protests, Angus wears the necklace and is immediately mocked. A kind classmate named Melody eventually helps Angus rediscover the beauty of bling by reconstructing the necklace into two friendship bracelets. Smith’s story accomplishes some great things: It introduces readers to new reach-word vocabulary, and Angus’ love of sparkle isn’t tied directly to sexuality or gender identity, allowing it to reach the heterosexual cis boys who love a little glitz and glimmer. The message stumbles slightly because Angus’ emotional well-being lives and dies by the opinions of others; he never finds the strength to trust his own beliefs. Carter’s cartoonish illustrations, a combination of watercolor, gouache, and pencil, are muted, and the vibrancy described in the story is not relayed via the images. They depict Angus as biracial (his dad has brown skin, and his mom is white) and Melody as black.

Not a must-have.

(Picture book. 6-10)