I've had a lot of fun today reading the different responses to the Well-Read Child's What Are You Reading Meme. This is the third week now that I have been contributing, and I'm enjoying not just the recommendations by all the different bloggers, but the conversations created by the comments left on this blog, and the comments I am leaving for others. One of these comments, which I left for the author of Teaching Young Children, set me thinking about picture books in which I have found my own daughter. I'm sure all readers recognize characteristics of people they know in the books they read. Well here's a list of four titles that, when I put them down upon first reading them, made me think, "I know this little girl/pig/bear!"
No Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke, illus. by Jenny Mattheson
Now as it happens, my daughter loves bows and hates braids. However, this straightforward point/counterpoint book about a girl with her own flair who knows exactly what she likes is my 8 year old in 50 words or less. There is even a certain physical resemblance between the little girl in the book and the little girl in this house. And this tub shot ....well....says it all really.
Busy Bea by Nancy Poydar
This was a recent discovery for me, made while weeding the P section at work. I am pretty familiar with Nancy Poydar's work, having used many of her picture books in story time, but this debut offering clearly slipped past me. It tells the story of Bea, a little girl who doesn't mean to lose all her stuff......sound familiar to anyone? It's just that Bea is so busy enjoying life that she forgets to remember to bring home her lunchbox and her raincoat and her sweater. This book reminded me of an incident at school where I literally followed a trail of gloves, hats and scarves from my daughter's class room to the entrance where the headmaster was greeting the kids as they arrived. That was slightly embarrassing. But the book was a gentle reminder to me that my daughter's just a kid with a lot of enthusiasm and interests who simply cannot be tied down by such mundane, earthly concerns as remembering to pick up an abandoned jacket. Her mind is busy with much more fantastic possibilities. which brings me to.....
Olivia by Ian Falconer
The similarity between Olivia and my daughter is so obvious that even she picked up on it; she has always demanded that, when reading any of the Olivia books, her own name is inserted in place of the porcine protagonist's. To be honest, Olivia is much more focused and driven than my daughter, but they both share rich inner fantasy worlds inspired by outside influences. In Olivia's case she is inspired by art (think of the scene when the pig family is at the art museum, and when Olivia looks at the Degas painting and she is imagining herself as the ballerina.) For my daughter it is music that triggers a withdrawal into whatever story she is imagining for herself. Like the narrator of Olivia, I often wonder what she is imagining, but I'm always sure that it is wonderful.
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley
Bear is sensitive. Bear is a worrier. Bear has found the most wonderful box for his friend Mouse, but he is so dismayed by the reaction and responses of all to whom he shows it that he is beginning to doubt the value of his gift. Fortunately, Bear is also steadfast, and it's a happy ending for Bear and Mouse who know a good thing when they see it. This book brings back fond memories of perfect sticks and just right pebbles and spectacular seashells, all rescued and treasured by a little girl who saw beauty and value in them all. (She also cluttered the house no end, but the sentiment was genuine.)
So there you have it--my little girl as defined by picture books: a free-spirited, forgetful, swashbuckling, worrying bear. More or less :)