Franny’s Father is a Feminist by Rhonda Leet

Published: 28th February 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 POW!
Illustrator: Megan Walker
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

Franny’s Father is a Feminist. It’s simple, really! He knows that girls can do anything boys can do, and raises Franny to believe that she deserves all the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill her dreams that he had. Through sweet, straight-forward prose, Franny’s Father portrays the loving bond between a young girl, and her father who isn’t afraid of bucking gender norms in order to ensure that his daughter grows up smart, strong, and full of self confidence. From teaching her to fix her own bicycle and splashing in the mud, to cheering at ballet recitals and supporting Franny’s mother in her career, Franny’s Father displays what it means for a man to be a Feminist, and how male Feminism can play a vital role in the empowerment of young women. 

The narrative is simple and the sentences are short and to the point. There is an educational style in the writing but it still flows like a story. Leet manages to directly explain what feminism is as well as showing it in everyday circumstances. Franny’s father cries openly and unashamedly, he helps Franny with anything she wants to do whether that is ballet or playing with tools, and he is all about empowering her.

It’s a wonderful move that more picture books are having these kinds of messages and I love that Leet is so obvious about it. She breaks down what being a feminist means and the fact she uses Franny’s dad, a man illustrated to be a big, burly, bearded man who some might think can be nothing but “manly” and “masculine” is even better.

This story breaks down the notion that there are boy jobs and girl jobs, girl interests and boy interests. It also promotes equality in housework and reminds kids that there’s nothing stopping them from being anything they want when they grow up. Leet uses storytime to educate the reader as well as Franny about real life feminie heroes from history and show the importance representation has on Franny and her friends.

This is an excellent book that everyone should read because while it is simple and uncomplicated, I think that is a great starting point in taking away the fear some people have of the F word and help them understand what it actually means.

You can purchase Franny’s Father is a Feminist via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

When the Library Lights Go Out by Megan McDonald

Published: 1st October 2005Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
Illustrator: Katherine Tillotson
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★  – 2 Stars

CLOSED may mean “closed” to you. But for three story-hour puppets, CLOSED means “open for adventure.”

At first there are only Rabbit and Lion. Hermit Crab is missing. Where can she be in the library darkness? 

Find out for yourself when – magically – only puppets are up and about.

From the cover it had the promise of a cute little adventure in the library after hours and while there is a semblance of adventure, it doesn’t quite hit the mark. First of all, it’s a long book. Not overly wordy on each page but it is a long story. This is perpetuated by the fact that it’s a while before anything happens.

I found I couldn’t engage with the story of Rabbit and Lion looking for their friend. It was either meant to be adventurous or have the emotional pull of finding a lost friend which I could see on the surface but nothing deeper. The ending obviously is meant to be heartfelt and maybe even magical in its own way but I didn’t care that much.

What the story lacks is made up for in the illustrations. They are well done and I got the feeling of the library and the toys’ place within it, and I liked the depiction of the toys, their scruffy style makes them look like the much loved scruffy toys they are meant to be. Tillotson has made a great visual representation of the story with lots of strong colours, dark shadows and wonderful techniques to capture the night environment.

It was sweet at the end but overall uneventful. I think this could have been a better story if it was a bit different but the current story failed to capture my attention.

You can purchase When the Library Lights Go Out via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman

Published: 11th March 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Laura Cornell
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, someone asks her about her daddy, but Heather doesn’t have a daddy. Then something interesting happens. When Heather and her classmates all draw pictures of their families, not one drawing is the same. It doesn’t matter who makes up a family, the teacher says, because “the most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love one another.”

This is the book. The book that everyone talks about, mainly because in 1989 when it was published it was one of the only books of its kind and no doubt was a smidge controversial. Thankfully there are a lot more out now and we have a little variety. My copy calls it a modern classic which it probably is, but I’m glad there are a lot more variations out there now.

The story isn’t actually focused on Heather’s two mummies, instead Heather is the main theme as we learn all about her. Newman tells us about how Heather’s favourite number is two and all the two things she has and does. It just so happens one of those twos is two mummies. As a whole it is also a great book about the different families there are: single parent, grandparents, step parents, same-sex parents.

The story doesn’t focus on how Heather copes with her two mummies, or the “controversy” of having two mummies. It is a perfectly sweet story that only happens to have two mummies in it. It is a wonderful book about being loved, new adventures, and the wonderful diversity of all family.

The illustrations are painted pictures with lots of colour by Cornell. There are full and double page pictures with lots of detail to keep little eyes busy. Cornell’s style is clear but also a lovely style of painted figures and backgrounds with no solid edges. The variety of colours is admirable and it highlights her great skillset. The text is simple and there is a rhythm but no rhyme, and Cornell illustrates Newman’s words with realism but with her own interpretation as well.

I was surprised because I had only heard mention of this book, but having found a copy I am glad to say I have read it. As I say, I am glad there are so many more out there now to read, but this one hasn’t aged and certainly isn’t dated. At its core it is about Heather and it is about family, something that never changes.

You can purchase Heather Has Two Mommies via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

Published: 14th June 2005Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Jane Chapman
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Far, far out at sea lives one of the world’s most mysterious creatures, the loggerhead turtle. For thirty years she swims the oceans, wandering thousands of miles as she searches for food. Then, one summer night, she lands on a beach to lay her eggs—the very same beach where she herself was born. Nicola Davies’s lyrical text offers fascinating information about the journey of the tiny, endangered loggerhead, while charming paintings by Jane Chapman vividly illustrate one turtle’s odyssey.

Davies has written a beautiful book about the majestic nature of sea turtles and while she doesn’t mention the human impact on their environment or habits, there is no doubt when you finish reading it makes you think about what that impact has been.

The focus is on one small female turtle as she survives in the sea and we follow her as she grows and explores the ocean. Davies’ words are lyrical and poetic and tell the fascinating and amazing journey from a baby turtle to a full grown Loggerhead.

There is a simple narrative but it covers a lot and in addition there are footnote type facts as well, smaller in print and separated from the main text. These are educational and add real life information based on whatever is currently happening in the narrative.

While the story itself is beautiful, there’s no doubt it’s enhanced by Chapman’s stunning illustrations. Truly the illustrations are beautiful; realistic and beautifully coloured images of the growing turtle and her underwater world. The cool colours and the layout on the page give you a sense of being underwater and you rise to the surface as the turtle does, Chapman placing you on the beach alongside the turtle and back into the sea. It is incredibly clever.

I found myself getting swept up in this wonderful tale even though it only describes the life of a turtle, nothing fanciful or fictional added on. Davies’s words are simple yet remind you how beautiful turtles really are.

You can purchase One Tiny Turtle via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

It’s Not Scribble to Me by Kate Ritchie

Published: 29th October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Australia
Illustrator: Jedda Robaard
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Have you ever had so many wonderful, wild and beautiful ideas that paper isn’t enough to hold them all?

Bear has. Upstairs and downstairs, outside and in, the whole house is covered in Bear’s colourful art – even Bear’s little sister. Can Bear convince her parents that she’s creating more than just ‘scribbles’?

All families will relate to this funny story of toddler cheekiness and charm, written by Kate Ritchie, author of I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You and illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

This is a very sweet book and I quite enjoyed this. I like seeing Ritchie come out with more picture books as they are filled with love and emotional connections. I picked this up because of Jess’ review over at Never Ending Book Shelf and I agree it is a lovely book and certainly filled with heart.

This story is a wonderful reminded that what looks like a blotch or a random scribble on a page is a picture perfect image to a child. They can see exactly what it is and it’s always a little heartbreaking not to understand what they have drawn.

The story is told through the voice and perspective of a child and the innocent voice is strong because it brings out the purity in their actions and the heart behind their intent. You feel their pride when the little bear talks about what they have drawn, and the disappointment when they are chastised for their art. It is a story that explores both sides of the situation but gets deep into your emotions about crushing the soul of this tiny artist.

The narrative is lyrical with rhymes as each page flows seamlessly to the next, accompanied by pictures that suit the words. There are only a sentence or two on each page but they explain the story remarkably well and you get easily caught up in the flow and rhythm of the tsory.

Robaard’s illustrations are adorable and I think her style choice is ideal. The cartoon depictions make the story cute without making it silly, but doesn’t make it too serious either. There is humour in the drawings, something for both the adult and the child to enjoy. Plus having a family of bears separates it from being a child and a fault on a child, but there are common themes and scenarios which can be drawn upon when reading.

I think this is great book for kids and parents because it helps to understand one another in a small way and this is a great stepping stone to help drive creativity but in welcomed places. Ritchie is writing about an area that you don’t often see and I think it is wonderful how she keeps putting these stories out that help to appreciate and understand children.

You can purchase It’s Not Scribble to Me via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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