Noni’s proud that she’s big enough to tie her own shoelaces and help care for her baby brother. But a big challenge shadows her happy days: “Noni cannot say no,” most especially to her best friend Susie. Susie’s requests are small enough to begin with, and Noni indulges her wishes with only a twitch of discomfort. Then her friend’s whims grow wilder: when Noni finds herself sporting a new and very clumsy hairdo by Susie’s hand and having to sleep on her own floor because Susie would rather take the bed, Noni finally puts her foot down. In Noni Says No Hartt-Sussman offers children preoccupied by peer acceptance a gentle lesson in assertion, buttressed by Côté’s airy sketches of the timid Noni, who gains in colour and movement when she learns to say no.
Andrea Belcham is the author of the forthcoming Food and Fellowship: Pro- jects and Recipes to Feed a Community (The Alternate Press/Life Media).