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Can A Princess Be A Firefighter?

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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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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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