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’s 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)