Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review: I'm a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail

I'm a Girl!

The illustrations on this one looked familiar, and I finally located my mini review of One Word from Sophia, posted about this time last year. Same splashes of color and joie de vivre in these illustrations, and this time it carries over into the words. 

Our spunky young rabbit likes to have fun and make noise, isn't too concerned about making a mess. It does annoy her, however, when people are constantly mistaking her for a boy, prompting the constant refrain of, "I'm a girl! I'm a girl! I'm a girl!"In the end, she meets a boy who likes to play with dolls, and they end up having fun being themselves together.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While it didn't resonate with my kids, who are used to boys and girls playing however they want to, I immediately thought of a couple little girls I may be handing this off to. I'm sure most librarians or teachers will find a name or two springing to mind when they read it. and I found the fact that the bunny is never discouraged or feels she had to change very positive. 

After a few readings, however, I realized that the anti-stereotypes were almost a stereotype themselves, if that makes any sense. Almost every 'boyish' thing she did is portrayed in a negative light - messy, loud, destructive - with corresponding reactions from adults. Does this mean tomboys are just obnoxious? That boys have no manners? That being yourself means making everyone around you angry, and that's okay?

On the surface a positive book, but the mixed messages keep me from giving it a glowing review.

***This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, and I am a first-round panelist in this category. There are many other panelists, and many MANY other great nominees, so a good or bad review here does not necessarily predict placement on the shortlist. 

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