I Do Not Like Yolanda

I Do Not Like Yolanda By Zoey Abbott

Behold the power of a great cover— a mysterious title + a side-eyed glance = is what made me pick up this winner of a picture book.

Bianca loves to write letters. On the front end pages we see some of Bianca’s illustrated notes to her Grandmothers. Bianca loves to collect stamps. Her Grandpa gave her a box of them.

But Bianca does not like Yolanda. Yolanda works at the post office which, obviously being a fanatical letter writer, Bianca often frequents.

In one of my all-time favorite picture book spreads we read the text, 

“I don’t think Yolanda likes kids very much. 

Or adults for that matter… 

One time I spent an hour on my envelope drawings.” 

On this left-hand page, we see an envelope with a sweet illustration at the top. Obviously, Bianca took a great deal of time and care to create such a masterpiece. At the bottom of that page, the text reads, 

“My letter was a little heavy, so Yolanda weighed it…

At the top of the right hand page, we see Yolanda’s curly, red, pointy-nailed hands (Bianca refers to Yolanda’s fingernails as talons) sticking a strip of meter tape for the additional postage, directly over Bianca’s beautiful drawing. At the bottom of the page, Bianca’s little hands are frozen in helplessness and shock. The text above them reads simply, 

“… and this happened!”

This moment was so powerful. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a pb that took me back to a feeling like this. Remember those times in your life that you felt small and powerless? Had Bianca been an adult, she would have spoken up, but as a little girl, she felt shocked, hurt, and taken advantage of by an adult. And, as I remember doing in my own childhood, I channeled all that disappointment into dislike of that person. Turning that person into my arch enemy and nemesis.

This is the reason that Bianca does not like Yolanda. But Bianca still needs to go to the post office. When she does, she avoids getting into Yolanda’s line. The illustrations throughout the book are full of clever and humorous details. In one illustration, Bianca is convinced that Yolanda wants to ‘eat her up’. A mouth with teeth borders the page as inside happy folks wait in line at the post office. Bianca stands holding her mail and “crossing everything”(eyes included) in the hope of not having to have Yolanda wait on her.

On a happy “five letter day” Bianca heads to the post office only to discover that to her horror Yolanda is the ONLY postal worker. And just as Bianca closes her eyes and awaits the kill, Yolanda speaks to her, 

“Well, I just served one of the most delightful meals that anyone has ever prepared.” 

And, magically, Yolanda’s curly claw hands are prettier. Her smile and eyes are kind. She and Bianca have a nice conversation and Bianca looks forward to asking Yolanda questions next time she goes to the post office. 

This happy ending is reinforced by a letter on the back end pages which is addressed to Yolanda, telling her about the yummy food that Bianca and her father prepared.

This story was full of surprises for me. Simple on the surface, but it had such emotional impact. It took me back to those (unpleasant) childhood memories and the sometimes unfortunate, powerless side of being a youngster. It also reminded me how we can, as children and adults, form assumptions and blow them out of proportion. Negative thoughts can grow bigger and bigger until they lose all basis in reality. 

I hope that you find this book and that you Do Like Yolanda as much as I did.

This is my last post before the new year. Happy and safe holiday wishes to all of you. Thank you for visiting us and sharing your love of picture books!

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.

36 Comments:

  1. I love Yolanda! Thanks for sharing and I can hardly wait to read it.

  2. That cover is amazing, Jennifer. This one was not on my radar–will be requesting it right away. Thanks for the rec, and happy holidays!

  3. I love the emotional tone of this! Thanks for recommending it!

  4. This looks fantastic – thank you for recommending! (I love the drawing with teeth bordering the page. Yikes!)

  5. The title caught my eye since there was a bully at my school called Yolanda. I didn’t like her much either. This book looks wonderful -can’t wait to read it. Congrats!

  6. This sounds wonderful! And surprising in a good way. Thanks!

  7. Thanks, Angie, hope you enjoy the happy surprises, too!

  8. As a life long snail mail fan, this is a book I need! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I laughed out loud at the title and cover…Just imagine the fun I’ll have with the inside part of the book!

  10. Thank you for the great post. Can’t wait to read and learn more about Yolanda.

  11. This book sounds amazing and as a complete fan of letters, letter-writing and postal workers, I will be checking it out. Thank you Jennifer for this and all the many titles you’ve brought to light here. All the season’s best wishes to you!

  12. Thank you for introducing me to I DON’T LIKE YOLANDA.

    I just requested this book from the library.

  13. Thanks, I’m really looking forward to this one. Love its subtlety.

  14. I’m a huge fan of snail mail and stationery so this one seems right up my alley. 🙂 Thanks for the inside scoop!

  15. What a fun story! I can’t wait to read it.

  16. I love the illustrations and humor in this book! Thanks for the rec!

  17. This is so interesting and the illustrations lovely.

  18. I hadn’t heard of this book, so thank you for introducing it. It looks and sounds like a winner.

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