#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Reinventing Womanity, Redefining Womanhood

A Girl Who Redefines Herself Constantly – But Remains A Diva Nonetheless: Starring Carmen!

"Starring Carmen!" by Anika Denise and Lorena Alvarez Gomez | "Lights, Camera, Carmen!" by Anika Denise and Lorena Alvarez Gomez.

Myra here.

These two beautifully illustrated and bilingual stories demonstrate how far picturebooks have come of age, with a brown-skinned girl on the cover, celebrating her unapologetic glory, as she constantly shifts, pulls on various disguises, and reinvents herself.


Starring Carmen!

Written by Anika Denise Illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gomez
Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (2017)
ISBN: 1419723219 (ISBN13: 9781419723216). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Starring Carmen! on Amazon | Book Depository

Carmen is a star. She is brimming with inexhaustible energy and bright ideas – and yes, glitter and glamour. She comes up with the most fabulous costumes, and is a singer, dancer, and actress. Clearly, there is nothing else that anyone can do, except applaud and turn off their mobile phones, while enjoying the show that she has prepared.

Her little brother, Eduardo, however, would like some part in the action. Hence, Carmen gave him a role: a rock who needs to stay quiet and absolutely still in one corner. The day of the actual performance, however, made her decide to transform the rock into a lamp, just because.

However, when Carmen announced an encore to her overly-extended show, her parents had to beg off. It was then that Carmen realized how she simply can not be a star without an adoring audience. This is where the long-suffering and patient hermanito favorito, Eduardo, comes in.

While the ending felt abrupt for me, it was a lovely story that shows how a young girl can take centre stage, and share it too.


Lights, Camera, Carmen!

Written by Anika Denise Illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gomez
Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (2018)
ISBN: 1419731696 (ISBN13: 9781419731693). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Lights, Camera, Carmen! on Amazon | Book Depository

This second book in the delightful Carmen series shows how Carmen found her new calling: from being a theatre performer, she has now decided that she will be in a commercial. The Dino-Krispies contest is a clear sign that she is meant to be one.

Hermanito Eduardo naturally volunteers to help. It is good that he only needs to do something very simple: “Just press Record” and voila, he can be the cinematographer.

However, the path to stardom is not always an easy one. It also involves a great deal of mopping, and yes, moping, and coming up with show-stopping ideas.

And oftentimes, it also entails redefining one’s role, while remaining a diva, regardless of whether one is in front of, or behind, the camera.


#WomenReadWomen2019: Anika Denise is from the United States Of America

Lorena Alvarez Gomez is from Colombia.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

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