Fat Maxine

Children - Social Issues
26 Pages
Reviewed on 11/04/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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.

Viga Boland

With over thirty years of teaching Grade One students, Anne Toole, author of Fat Maxine, has an awareness of and sensitivity to what upsets young children, and what can help them develop positive self-esteem. Once Toole retired, she embarked on writing books for children that deal with those social issues they face daily in their classrooms and after school. To date, she has six children's books to her credit, and all are the kind that will appeal to very young children, thanks to the beautiful illustrations by Richa Kinra, and to the rhyming poetry Toole has used to get her message across to youngsters.

The title, Fat Maxine, instantly tells us what this book is about: a little girl who liked to eat, who "enjoyed anything that tasted sweet," whose favorite foods were potato chips with dip ... and vanilla ice cream filled with chocolate chips! Possibly needless to say, Maxine also hated exercise which didn't help her looks or energy. Sadly, as many of us probably remember, children can be very cruel. The story of Fat Maxine is a tale as old as time, but Anne Toole brings the message home to children that bullying is unkind and hurtful. How does she do it? Well no one wants a story for children to end on a negative note and Toole know how to make sure it doesn't.

This is the kind of book parents and grandparents enjoy reading with children and that allows teachers room for classroom discussion. So it has a broad and important market. If there is one thing that adult readers might notice, it's that the poetry is sometimes stilted for the sake of rhyme, or that lines lose their musical rhythm. Fortunately, children will most likely be less critical of Toole's poetic skills than her peers as, for young children, the story and the illustrations in Fat Maxine matter far more than the medium through which the message is delivered.

Sarah Stuart

Fat Maxine by Anne Toole is a lovely story, written in rhyme, which would comfort any child who is overweight, and it has a very intriguing twist. Maxine does begin to lose a few pounds, but not because she is ashamed of the way she looks, though it does make her unhappy, but due to being accepted by her classmates as a friend so she wants to go out and play and run off those excess calories. Fat Maxine would be a great book in school libraries, or for use in the classroom; it is not only plump, or even obese, children who should read it. Those who are the correct weight for their height and age would understand that teasing is unkind and unhelpful, and children know deep inside they’re not perfect either.

Fat Maxine is beautifully illustrated and written in flowing rhyme. Initially, Maxine’s experiences of school are not good. ‘The children would say, “Hurry up Maxine. The fattest girl we’ve ever seen!”’ Later, when she finds herself in a school softball team: ‘“You have to play Maxine,” she heard someone scream. “You’re the only one left on the team!”’ Maxine makes the winning home run after putting all her weight behind hitting the ball. The other children realise it’s wrong to judge a person by their looks and want to be friends. I recommend Fat Maxine by Anne Toole to everyone looking for gifts for the children in their life; it’s fun to read, and it subtly influences them to be kinder to themselves and to others.