Can A Princess Be A Firefighter?

A parent offers a world of ideas for daughters when they grow up in this illustrated ode to girls. 

Two little girls—one with curly brown hair and blue eyes, the other blonde with brown eyes—ask a parent innocently whether a princess can also be a firefighter. The girls present a firefighter’s hat, a judge’s gown, and their sparkly tiaras in tandem. Their parent assures them they can be anything they’d like and begins a litany of careers, some traditionally feminine and others not, all accompanied by pictures of the girls in costumes for each job. The girls respond with delight but also some concern: “You think a bit, then tell me, / ‘I’d love to do all those things.’ / ‘Will I have to stop princessing?’ you ask. / ‘Could I still wear my fairy wings?’ ” Arkova’s illustration shows the wonderful juxtaposition of fairy wings worn on top of a doctor’s scrubs and a cowpoke’s duds. The parent continues with even more possibilities: truck drivers, sculptors, police officers, explorers, mayors, clothing models, sailors in the Navy, teachers, or mothers, and the list goes on. And given all the options, the parent suggests, why not try more than one? But there’s no pressure on the girls to choose right away; the parent lets them know they can change their minds and that their work should be something they enjoy. The conclusion, however, reminds the girls that they will always be princesses to their parent. Arkova’s decision to never reveal the gender of the parent in the perfectly pastel images is felicitous; no matter which parent reads the book aloud to his or her children, they’ll receive the same message of female empowerment. There are moments, between the illustrations and the rhymes, that border on saccharine, and all of the book’s characters are white. But those flaws are offset by the sheer variety of possibilities veteran author Roman (If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy, 2016, etc.) offers the two young girls. Unfortunately, the parent never satisfactorily answers the girls’ question: can a doctor keep princessing and wearing fairy wings? That concern about what grown-ups have to leave behind may linger for young lap readers—or be easily forgotten in the parade of jobs in delightful rhyming cadence. A sweet celebration of girlhood that embraces both the traditional and the progressive.

Pub Date: March 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5303-6184-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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