#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Warrior Women and Social Justice

[Monday Reading] Girls With A Fierce Sense of Identity As Portrayed In Picturebooks

Featuring Juana Martinez-Neal, Jane Yolen & Heidi E. Y. Stemple and Anne-Sophie Lanquetin.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

I enjoyed how these two picturebooks depict young girls with a fierce sense of identity – embracing that which is unusual, off-kilter, unexpected about themselves, owning it, and integrating it into their very beings. Warrior girls indeed.

Not All Princesses Dress In Pink

Written by: Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple Illustrated by: Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2010)
ISBN: 1416980180 (ISBN13: 9781416980186). Borrowed a copy from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Written by mother and daughter tandem Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, this book celebrates the many princesses with sparkly crowns who unabashedly refuse to wear pink.

One of the dangers of telling the same story repeatedly (Disney Princesses, cough, Cinderella, cough, Sleeping Beauty, cough), is that readers may think that there is only one acceptable way that princesses should behave or dress like – or even worse, think like. Books similar to this one shatter those tropes and misconceptions by representing girls who feel and dress differently, such as the one above with the “bright red socks that stink.”

Hence, this book becomes more than just the colour pink – it portrays girls who enjoy dancing in the mud while being soaked in the rain (while wearing a sparkly crown, of course); or princesses who use screwdrivers, drills, hammer while bedecked in their glittery jewels (and sparkly crowns, naturally).

Truly an empowering story demonstrating how princesses can be warriors too – while wearing overalls, driving dump trucks, and dancing the fox-trot in blue – not to forget the very sparkly princess crown, of course.

Alma And How She Got Her Name

Written and Illustrated by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Published by: Candlewick Press (2018)
ISBN: 0763693553 (ISBN13: 9780763693558). Borrowed a copy from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

There are quite a number of picturebooks that celebrate names and identity. In fact, we have curated a list in our Social and Emotional Learning Bookshelf called What’s In A Name: Being In Between Culture, Identity, and Language.

This one is a worthy addition to this list with a daunting name like Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. What a Kindergarten nightmare!

Alma’s ever-patient and thoughtful father, however, shared with Alma the story behind each one of her names. As can be seen in the image above, this book is Peruvian through and through.

One of my favourite explanations of Alma’s name is the story behind Pura, Alma’s great-aunt. She has this spiritual, shaman-like quality to her that I gravitate towards. However, in keeping with our social justice/warrior woman reading theme, I was very pleased to note that one of Alma’s names celebrate just this kind of spirit in Candela:

Apparently, grandmother Candela championed the rights of the downtrodden, and marched in the streets to fight injustices and give voice to the marginalized.

The book ends with the author encouraging the young reader to find out the story behind their names. I was especially taken by the art work and the design of the book. I will be sure to find and read all of Juana Martinez-Neal’s stories in the future.

#WomenReadWomen2019: 4 / 5 of 25 (country: Peru – while Martinez-Neal is now based in the US, she was born in Peru and tells stories about her homeland; France – artist Lanquetin lives and works in Paris);

United States of America (Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple are from Massachusetts)

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15 comments on “[Monday Reading] Girls With A Fierce Sense of Identity As Portrayed In Picturebooks

  1. I have read Alma, which I also really enjoyed, but Not all Princesses Dress in Pink also looks great. I am adding that to my list. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still haven’t read Alma And How She Got Her Name, but it looks SO good — something I would like to share with my own children as we remind them of why each of their names are special. I also look forward to following your new 2019 theme, Myra. Very important! Have a wonderful week of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a friend named Alma! Maybe I should give her this book! I was just thinking last year that there weren’t any fiction books about women’s suffrage in the US. I seem to remember reading some as a child (Never Jam today, from 1963), but don’t really have any in the library! Thanks for highlighting this topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have never heard of Not All Princesses Dress in Pink – Thanks for highlighting this book! Alma is one of our favorites from 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindabaie

    I echo everyone’s comments, Myra, love Alma, would have used it in the classroom when we all researched our names, but Not All Princesses Dress in Pink is new to me, too. Will look for it! It isn’t an issue with my granddaughters, but perhaps it is somewhere! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not All Princesses is new to me but will definitely look for it. I really loved Alma.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I adored Alma. It’s a simple book with an oh so powerful message! I’ll be on the lookout for Not All Princesses. Hurrah my library has a copy. While you are doing this theme, I hope you get a chance to read The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp. Here’s my post about it if you want to read more: https://dickenslibrary.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-worst-princess-by-anna-kemp-and.html
    I am conflicted about the anti pink thing. On the one hand I get that on some level it represents oppression and constricted role definitions, but I want us to embrace pink and show the world that pink is smart, powerful, brave and compassionate all at the same time. Sigh.
    I could carry on with lists of my favourite subversive princess books but alas, that would take a page or two….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jana Eschner

    I’ve ordered Alma and How She Got Her Name from the library and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jordann @thebookbloglife

    These books look amazing! I will definitely have to add them to my to buy list!

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sarah Sammis

    Both books looks good. First update of 2019

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes! Girl Power!
    I love Alma, but I didn’t know the Princess book–I’ll have to get it and read it with Trent 🙂 Reminded me a bit of Princess in Black 🙂

    Happy reading this week, and happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Loving both the books you have featured here.. definitely adding them to my list 🙂 Finding out more about your name is always so wonderful..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] My 2019 in Books: Favourite Reads Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  14. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Of Princess and Winter Beds in Diverse Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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