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

[DiverseKidLit] Little Girls From Iceland and Israel in Picturebooks

"Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance And Dance" by Birgitta Sif | "Nora The Mind Reader" by Orit Gidali and Aya Gordon-Noy.

Myra here.

Welcome to #DiverseKidLit! Please join us in sharing your diverse children’s book links and resources, as well as visiting other links to find great suggestions and recommendations.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

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We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, 7th of September, and the first Saturday of each month.


Our theme has to do with transformation and reinvention. The story of these two girls from Iceland and Israel demonstrate a credible transformation – indicating how changed their perception of themselves, others, and the world came to be.


Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance And Dance

Written and Illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Published by Candlewick Press (2014)
ISBN: 0763673064 (ISBN13: 9780763673062). Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance And Dance on Amazon | Book Depository

I know of Birgitta Sif through her lovely Oliver (see my review here). Yet, while I immediately fell in love with Oliver, it took a third reading for me to fully appreciate Frances Dean’s enthusiasm for dance.

In the image above, it was shown how Frances Dean would often day dream in class, waiting for that moment when she could be outdoors – and do the thing she loves the most: dance!

It is a quiet reminder, at least for me as an adult, about how we often do things we do not particularly enjoy – while we avidly wait for annual vacations where we can truly do what we love to do most (for me that would be reading and writing about what I read), and yet that much-anticipated moment always ends so quickly.

Back to the story – Frances Dean, however, gets horribly self-conscious whenever there are other people around – that she is unable to dance. That is, until she chanced upon a girl who was singing to her heart’s content, unmindful of the people around her:

This book perhaps came at the right time for me. A beautiful reminder of the importance of doing that which you value the most in the world: because that is all that matters in the end.


Nora The Mind Reader

Written by Orit Gidali Illustrated by Aya Gordon-Noy
Published by Enchanted Lion Books (2012)
ISBN: 1592701205 (ISBN13: 9781592701209) Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy Nora The Mind Reader on Amazon | Book Depository

Nora came home from Kindergarten, fairly upset by a comment made by a male classmate regarding her “flamingo legs.” Nora’s mother comforted her and made things magically better by finding a magic wand that allows Nora to see what people are actually thinking and not just what they say:

This made Nora realize that frequently people say things but mean something else entirely. This kind of perspective taking made her less prone to taking offence, and thoughtfully consider other people’s motivations by seeing situations through their eyes.

This is a picturebook that gradually grew on me. When I read it a few years back, I found the ending slightly heavy-handed – and there also seems to be an implicit assumption that what Nora will see as actual motivations of people would only show their fears, anxieties, insecurities – and not that some people are actually malicious with evil intentions – because sometimes this is true as well.

However, the story paints a more positive portrayal of people – but it also does not provide a blanket expectation that this will be true at all times. I believe, this story will be more effective when used as a take-off point for discussions on empathy, perspective taking, figuring out people’s motivations and intentions between an adult and a young reader.


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#WomenReadWomen2019: 27 / 28 (out of target 25): Birgitta Sif is from and based in Iceland | Orit Gidali and Aya Gordon-Noy are from Israel.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. 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 served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. 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, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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