LITTLE ELLEN

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Comedian DeGeneres, host of the popular, long-running, multi-Emmy-award–winning eponymous daytime talk show known for its star’s hip dance moves, audience giveaways, and A-list guests, delivers a picture book based on the animated series of the same name about her childhood in New Orleans. The author attempts to convey to children the importance of being oneself, describing what she likes about herself—for instance, her big heart—and, ostensibly, encouraging readers to follow suit: e.g., putting others’ needs ahead of their own, being generous and kind—all while no one notices. Certainly, these are great messages to convey to readers, but, as narrated here in clunky verse, the unclear text doesn’t quite hit its mark and comes across as rather egocentric; only occasionally do readers get a sense that Little Ellen is boosting them more than herself. The illustrations fare better than the narrative. Colorful, lively, though generic, the digital art features light-skinned, blond, wide-eyed 7-year-old Ellen frolicking with her light-skinned, gray-haired Gramsy and racially diverse friends against some picturesque French Quarter and Louisiana parkland landscapes. Some text is set in colored type, adding to the visual appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

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