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.