I chose Dahlia by Barbara McClintock as this week’s selection for originality in writing. This book was not at all what I originally expected. I am ashamed to say that at first glance I was expecting the book to be about a stereotypical little girl; however, I was pleasantly surprised. I almost did not check it out because I tend not to like books that show one-dimensional characters, but when I started flipping through the pages, I realized I was completely wrong.
The book tells the story of a little girl named Charlotte who loves to play outside in the mud and collect birds nests, bugs, and other small creatures. She spends most of her time with her companion Bruno (her stuffed bear). Charlotte receives a doll from her aunt, (which Charlotte names Dahlia) and initially dislikes it, because of the frilly dress and what the doll represents. She soon begins taking the doll along with her and Bruno and realizes that she fits right in and that her preconceptions were incorrect. When her aunt visits, she tells Charlotte she gave her the doll because she thought Dahlia would enjoy playing outside in the mud with Charlotte.
I loved this book and the message behind it. I love that it encourages kids to play as they please without restraints based on their gender. I also loved that Charlotte was tough, intelligent, strong, nurturing, and loving, all in one. She represents many little girls and is not a one-dimensional character as can sometimes be found in children’s literature. Additionally, the illustrations are beautiful and the style that Barbara McClintock uses makes them appear to be from a different era. I love sharing these types of books with my son.
Onto another great book, with a strong female lead.
For originality in illustrations, I selected “Ava the Monster Slayer – A Warrior Who Wears Glasses” written by Lisa Maggiore and illustrated by Ross Felten. The story is about a young girl who is often described as being “cute”, but she warns us not to let her “cuteness” and “littleness” fool us into believing she is not strong. When her piggy (a stuffed animal) is left in the dryer, she knows she has to save him from the evil monsters that live in the basement. She puts on a cape, her rain boots, her tiara and uses her brother’s sword. She then goes on a quest to save her piggy and in the process she vanquishes many terrifying monsters that lurk in the night.
The way the book was put together (in terms of the text, the color of the text, and the illustrations) is fantastic and it perfectly exemplifies the personality of the main character, Ava. The illustrator uses a comic book style and makes readers feel as if they are reading a comic book about a legitimate super hero. The use of dark and light and the color combinations make all the illustrations stand out beautifully. Additionally, the words that are supposed to be shouted out by the reader are represented as such, which makes reading the book even more enjoyable. It’s just a fun, beautifully executed book to read.
I absolutely loved everything about this week’s books, especially the representation of strong female leads. We need more books like these ones.
Please be sure to check back every Friday to see what book(s) I selected as my Books of the Week for Originality in the Writing and Illustrations. Feel free to make any recommendations on books I should check out.