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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Fat Maxine is a social issues-related picture book for children written by Anne Toole and illustrated by Richa Kinra. Maxine liked to eat, and she didn’t really like to exercise. Her mom and dad would try to get her to go outdoors, but she preferred to stay home. Maxine dreaded going to school as well. The other kids were mean to her and called her fat. They made fun of her being a little bit slower than they were and enjoyed calling her “the fattest girl we’ve ever seen.” Maxine wasn’t really all that fat, and it shouldn’t have even mattered if she were, but Maxine was a bit more chubby than her peers in school. It was enough to make her the butt of jokes and the victim of endless bullying that made school a torment. When Coach Hall announced that softball teams were being set up for a series of games, Maxine knew she’d be the last one picked, and she was right. But she was mistaken when she thought she’d never have to actually play or be any good.
Anne Toole’s social issues-related picture book for children, Fat Maxine, addresses the important issue of bullying in the schoolroom, and the devastating effect it has on the victims. While Maxine is a target because of her weight issues, any deviation from the norm, such as wearing glasses or being of a different ethnic background than the majority of the class, can leave the different child feeling like they’d just rather stay home and hide than face their tormentors. Toole’s book shows kids that judging someone by their appearance can lead to some pretty drastic mistakes. The team that gets Maxine ends up being the real winners in this uplifting story. Richa Kinra’s illustrations work perfectly with the plot and theme of this story. They’re brightly colored and eloquently show Maxine’s alienation from the group prior to her surprise performance during the softball game. No one likes being left out and bullied for being different. Fat Maxine illustrates quite eloquently how painful it is for the victims, and it does so in a way that will make sense to young listeners and readers. Fat Maxine is most highly recommended.