#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Witches and Goddesses Dryads and Priestesses

[Monday Reading] The Grounded Sorcery of Girls’ Bravery And Courage in 2019 Picturebooks

"I Will Be Fierce!" by Bea Birdsong and Nidhi Chanani | "Brave Molly" by Brooke Boynton-Hughes.


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. 

These two picturebooks demonstrate how even very young girls are able to vanquish their own personal demons, and go out into the day, wearing a rainbow-coloured armour, with a vow to be fierce today and for always.

I Will Be Fierce! [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Bea Birdsong Illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
Published by Roaring Brook Press (2019)
ISBN: 1250295084 (ISBN13: 9781250295088). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

I am usually wary of picturebooks like this that wear its heart out on its sleeve, i.e. with an explicit message that seems to leave little room for the reader to manoeuvre. Yet this book was a pleasant surprise.

While the message itself seems pointed, the playful tone and the visual codes and complexity in the art, added a whole different layer to the narrative. The mantra, which may be quite cliche to most parents/teachers/adults reading this aloud to kids, has taken on a new meaning with this girl, who from the images seem to be raised by her grandmother.

Apart from the fact that I loved her rainbow-coloured armour, I also enjoyed seeing how Chanani exemplified dragons and multi-headed serpents and made the larger-than-life message contemporary, infusing magic into the mundane, providing children both the infinite and hand-held truths that they can carry with them like a security blanket.

Naturally, the above image is my favourite. There are visual puns embedded into the narrative that just made me laugh out loud, begging to be explored, discussed and pointed out by a skilled adult facilitator. I am truly very happy that I read this book before the year ended: I shall take this message to heart and go out every day with my pointer finger up in the air, declaring: “I will be fierce!”

Brave Molly [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes
Published by Chronicle Books (2019)
ISBN: 1452161003 (ISBN13: 9781452161006). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

This is a wordless picturebook about Brave Molly who seems plagued by anxieties that are reified in this story. As I was going through the narrative, I was reminded very distinctly of Mel Tregonning’Small Things (see my review here) – except that this one is less dark and definitely more accessible to younger readers.

One is able to deduce from the images that Molly seems painfully shy and unable to answer even a simple greeting. Worse of all, she seems continually haunted by these creatures (also fairly reminiscent of Eva Eland‘s When Sadness Is At Your Door – see Fats’ review here and my review here) who seem to be following her everywhere.

Throughout the narrative, the sense of agency rested in Molly’s spirit: her very real fear, her attempts at avoidance, and her being just exhausted by everything that she finally stood her ground with firmness and yelled at these pesky monsters to leave her be. Yet perhaps what stood out even more for me by way of art is not so much that page when she faced her fears, but when she found her voice, as tiny as it may be:

These are two lovely picturebooks that should be added to anyone’s bookshelf. Get them now for the courageous children in your lives!

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America (Brooke Boynton-Hughes | Bea Birdsong)

39 (out of target 25): India (Nidhi Chanani is from India but now based in the US)

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

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).

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] The Grounded Sorcery of Girls’ Bravery And Courage in 2019 Picturebooks

  1. I Will Be Fierce is a book I’ve been meaning to check out. It sounds wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for the introduction to these books. My library has both of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My oldest granddaughter needs these books, among others, Myra. She struggles so with being brave and telling others to knock it off! I like them both, but Brave Molly seems just right for her. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed your description of both of these books, I will be trying to check them out at a library soon. Thanks for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I will Be Fierce looks like a great book for my daughter. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel the same way about books that seem too preachy or didactic, but I Will Be Fierce does sound like a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am looking forward to getting Brave Molly — I love wordless picturebooks. I think they’re great for the younger crowd, but also so helpful with initiating discussion with older children. Thanks for sharing, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

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