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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Stand Tall: The Chronicles of Buster and Bean by Teju Akande is heartwarming and inspiring as it celebrates the uniqueness of human individuality. At the center of the story is young Buster, who lives in the village of Bon Mot with his mom, dad, and little sister Bean. Buster belongs to a multiracial family of British, Nigerian, and Canadian lineage. As a spirited and energetic young boy, he loves playing video games, football, and the violin. One day while playing football, one of the boys named Jak breaks the rules and ruins the game. When Buster tells him to follow the rules, Jak spews out name-calling that made Buster sad throughout the day. At home, his dad makes his famous chocolate brownies, and the whole family talks to Buster in his room. Buster tells his family that he wishes to be different so that no one would call him a horrid name. This is where his mom and dad affectionately enlighten him on the joys of being different and what a person’s uniqueness can offer to the world.
Teju Akande is on a noble crusade to delight young readers while creating awareness of the value of diversity and the power of embracing one’s uniqueness. She has written an inspiring little tale as an invaluable reference to stress her point. I like the way she uses the game of soccer to leverage her storyline, as many children enjoy the sport, and it will be sure to engage them in what the story has to tell. At the same time, Zeynep Dural’s illustrations give balance to the story. Her solid colors put emphasis on diversity and evoke the necessary emotions. The recipe for Dad’s famous chocolate brownies is an additional fun activity that the whole family can try. Stand Tall is a story that I do not hesitate to recommend because it gives children encouragement to push through their obstacles as well as experience their moments of joy.