#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Reinventing Womanity, Redefining Womanhood

[Monday Reading] Portrayal of Girls as Environmentalists and Scientists in 2019 Picturebooks

"When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree" by Jamie L. B. Deenihan and Lorraine Rocha | "Georgia's Terrific, Colorific Experiment" by Zoe Persico.


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. 

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree

Written by Jamie L. B. Deenihan Illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2019)
ISBN: 1454923814 (ISBN13: 9781454923817) Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

Buy When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree on Amazon | Book Depository

A young girl has listed down some of the things she is hoping to receive for her birthday, and predictably, they are gadget-heavy: a phone, robot dog, headphones just to cite a few. No books, no clothes, nor shoes in the list. However, unexpectedly, Grandma gives her a lemon tree instead.

The narrator of the story then proceeds to give very sound tips on how to be gracious with the gift: including not making a face, returning the gift back, or gifting it to somebody else. Apart from making a list of what not to do, the narrator listed down a few helpful suggestions on what to do with the lemon tree: the dos and donts of caring for this growing thing.

The story is witty and entertaining. While others may argue that the message can be fairly heavy-handed with the environmental bit pretty evident, it was done in such an engaging manner that didn’t take itself too seriously.

The transformation of this young girl at the end of the narrative was credible, and I also love seeing how the portrayal of girls in children’s books is gradually being redefined. Not so much princesses or damsels in distress, but little gardeners and environmentalists who are thoughtful, sensitive, and service-minded.

Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment

Written and Illustrated by Zoe Persico
Published by Running Press Kids (2019)
ISBN: 0762465247 (ISBN13: 9780762465248). Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

Georgia belongs to a family of artists. Unlike them, however, Georgia is fascinated with science, the cosmos, plants, and animals, and the lives and inventions of famous scientists.

I truly enjoyed the way Georgia was depicted throughout the story; her geeky nature evident with her nose continually buried in a book. Moreover, I loved her sense of fashion, with the big trendy eye glasses and the scarf that puts her voluminous hair back. The fact that she is also a brown-skinned young girl was not lost on me – and that it is not explicitly-central to the narrative made it even better.

When she decided to come up with her very own experiment, she was bombarded with many well-meaning suggestions by her family members. However, the strategies are all bent towards colour, sketching, and visual imagery – which frustrated Georgia to no end, making her stomp her way to her Science hut to be alone.

This is a remarkable story about a young girl whose fierce sense of individuality and intense curiosity has transformed her ideation into one that is refreshingly interdisciplinary, but also rooted in a sense of self-efficacy and connectedness. Buy these two books and share with your young readers, boys and girls alike.

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America.

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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).

5 comments on “[Monday Reading] Portrayal of Girls as Environmentalists and Scientists in 2019 Picturebooks

  1. Both are new to me, Myra, and will be fun to find & share with my granddaughters, both determined to make their own way in life. I had a student once write about his loneliness in his sports-loving family because all he wanted to do was write! This Georgia reminded me of him, wanting to follow her own dreams. Thanks! Hope your move is going well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Sammis

    Your books sound good. My weekly update

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going to look out for that Lemon Tree book — it sounds right up my alley!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we just got in the Grandma book. I’m looking forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree on my TBR list, but I’m adding Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment today. Thank you so much for sharing these titles, Myra! And my apologies for making last week’s #imwayr rounds so very late — it happens sometimes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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