Day 89 (Week 13, Day 5) - Thursday 30th March 2017
We're back on with adding to our total today after having a couple of days without progress, so that's excellent news! 89 days in and I'm having trouble thinking of anything interesting and poignant to write in these introductions, so I'll skip most of it and get right on with telling you about what we've read!
1) I'm a Girl! - Yasmin Ismail (Author & Illustrator)
Ah, now, if you want a fantastic book for challenging gender stereotypes then this is a perfect fit! The girl in this story is sporty, intelligent, loud, messy, strong, and forever being mistaken for a boy because of it. Despite her protests, no-one is willing to accept who she is, until she meets a kindred spirit in a boy wearing pink and a skirt at the end.
Seriously, I hate anything that tells a boy or a girl how they have to behave like a member of their sex is 'supposed' to. Well, forget it: if my son wants to dress as a princess then I'm damn well going to let him, stereotypes be damned (I wrote a book about it once, though sadly it's still not good enough to publish). Full praise to anyone who tries to challenge this ludicrous sexism we still seem to have rampant in 2017, damaging our children's minds and destroying their dreams.
I'll stop ranting now so you don't have to listen to me go on too much, and instead praise a book that is both beautiful in text and beautiful in imagery. If you're anything like me, you'll want to shout at the characters who refuse to recognise she's a girl, and will her on as she doesn't let gender stereotypes stop her enjoying what she wants to do.
I really like some of the subtle bits of illustration, such as the fact that the girl (a hippo) has a blue skin tone, and the boy (a lion) has more of a pink hue. It makes a mockery of how pink things are marketed at girls and blue things marketed at boys, and the best part was Josh asking why they thought she was a boy, clearly not seeing any of these stereotypes himself.
Loved this book!
Chris: Wonderful, wonderful stuff! My children will NOT grow up being subject to ludicrous stereotypes, and if they want to do 'girl' things then they'll damn well get to do them!
Josh says: I like how she kept shouting 'I'm a girl!'.
Xander says: I'm a girl! We both are!
2) The Doughnut of Doom - Elys Dolan (Author & Illustrator)
Blimey, if I had to eat a doughnut for everytime we've had to re-read this from Day 89 until I'm actually publishing this post on (embarassingly, six weeks later) Day 137, I'd be one queasy person! Seriously, the kids have read this loads, and I do mean that THEY have read it loads - I'll often find Xander reading his own interpretation out loud, or Josh sitting down with him to give HIS version of events. That's one of the greatest joys of this whole undertaking; watching the kids want to re-read books that we've enjoyed together already.
I've said it before and I'll confidently say it again: nobody, but NOBODY, puts more things happening at once into their illustrations than Elys Dolan! Honestly, there's always tons and tons happening which helps to build up such a busy picture of life in her stories, and the kids have such fun looking out for everything that's happening. And what fun it is indeed on this occasion, being a part of the wacky world that she's created, with it's enormous killer doughnuts and peanut butter sandwich reporters, bringing a monster/disaster movie hybrid into picture book format!
It's bright and colourful, exciting and funny, and has one of those covers that children are physically incapable of seeing and not wanting to immediately pick up and read. You aren't going to go wrong with Elys Dolan's work, and The Doughnut of Doom is guaranteed to entertain anyone with the slightest taste for fun!
Chris says: Just look at that doughnut on the front cover; how could anyone resist? Particularly with so much going on inside! Fantastic fun.
N.B. I'd normally write down here what Josh & Xander both thought of the book, but they literally just started trying to eat me when I asked so I have absolutely no idea! I'm guessing they enjoyed it somewhat though!
3) Monstersaurus - Claire Freedman (Author) & Ben Cort (Illustrator)
A book about inventing monsters? Oh, how could we resist such a perfect opportunity to be inspired into talking about creating our own?! Which is just what we did of course, when we'd finished reading this fun-filled story of one young boy who does just that, even if things start to go slightly wrong...
I'm not entirely sure that I'd want the kids inventing a monster to become their new best friend, even if it works out well for Monty in this book, but I'm 100% behind them reading books like this which help to inspire their imaginations and creativity! It's not surprising really that this works so well when you realise that it's Claire Freedman behind the story (author of Aliens Love Underpants), and Ben Cort's illustrations bring the ideas so wonderfully to life.
Truly, books like this are amongst my favourites because they help take the fun beyond that which we've had reading together, and further on into the kids' playtime. You just know that your children are going to be able to have fun together inventing their own monsters, and that's a great thing to know they have to look forward to!
Chris says: Everyone loves coming up with new creatures when they're little, and Monstersaurus certainly seemed to get my two in the mood for unleashing their creative sides! I feel lucky that I didn't get woken up the next morning by two very excited little monsters!
Josh says: I liked the monster trying to kiss people.
Xander says: I like monsters!
So, to summarise Day 89...
I really do feel that this has been an exceptional day for stories, even compared to the rest of the Picture Book Challenge so far. I'm a Girl! started us off with a wonderful showcase of why gender-stereotyping is utterly ridiculous (no, whatever certain public figures and newspapers try to tell you, there are NOT boy and girl jobs!), The Doughnut of Doom led us on such a fun thrill ride of a disaster-movie-in-picture-book-form, and Monstersaurus had us putting our creative hats on and unleashing our wildest imaginations.
You aren't going to go wrong with this selection of three!