Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal | Book Review
The Children’s Book Review | October 3, 2018
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal
Illustrated by Holly Hatam
Age Range: 4-8 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (December 26, 2017)
What to expect: Female lead, Inspiring, Thoughtful
Dear Girl, is a wonderful children’s book constructed as a letter – from the book to the reader, from the authors to their character, from the character to herself.
It begins by encouraging the story’s girl—who is, in a sense, all girls—to speak her mind: “Dear Girl, Keep that arm raised! You have smart things to say!” and proceeds to follow and encourage the girl and her readers to express herself in myriad ways. “Sometimes you may feel like being pink and sparkly…Sometimes you may feel pretty much the opposite.”
Besides the inner life, the book also takes on appearance and its many varieties, bringing in a host of girls—red heads, freckles, birthmarks—to make the important point that such characteristics are also what makes individuals individual: “Look in the mirror: Say thank you to something that makes you YOU.”
At first pass, the book may seem to be a fairly typical instance of the burgeoning list of children’s books marketed with an eye toward the current climate of identity politics, but this book deserves more credit than that. It transcends simplicity of the kind that such ‘debates’ often lazily fall into, and instead offers a beautiful and nuanced take on personhood and its myriad complexities. While perhaps aimed at girls, this book is actually an excellent foray into the fraught terrain of identity— complex ground for anyone—and boys and girls would do well to read it. Of course, the subtext here is expectations of gender, but the really empowering and sophisticated story here is how complicated the inner lives of children, all children, are: “Sometimes you just need a good cry…Sometimes you’ll need a friend…Sometimes you’ll need to be alone.” No one gets a free pass out of such complexities, and the book takes on identity in a manner worthy of the subject.
As the book proceeds, the reader feels in the presence of sophisticated thinking aimed at the loftiest of questions: How to be a person, a full person, above and beyond what the world’s real or imagined expectations may be of any of us. The advice will strike children, and parents, with a real sense of authenticity and urgency, and conversations will grow from repeated readings. Alongside the text, lively and intelligent illustrations by Holly Hatam bring that conversation fully alive.
About the Authors
Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote more than thirty picture books, including the New York Times bestsellers I Wish You More, Uni the Unicorn, Plant a Kiss, and Exclamation Mark. A contributor to National Public Radio, a TED collaborator and speaker, a filmmaker, and the author of two groundbreaking adult memoirs, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Amy raised her three children with her husband on a tree-lined street in Chicago.
Paris Rosenthal attends Quest University, a liberal arts school near Vancouver. She was the first woman in her high school to play on the men’s basketball team, earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do with her father, and started a cancer support group at her college. Paris enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, writing, organizing, and making things. Her favorite project was working on the book Dear Girl, with her mother.
About the Illustrator
Holly Hatam is a girl who sometimes likes to wear something pink and sparkly and sometimes dons a cape and fights dragons. Some days her heart may seek wild adventures, but other days she just wants to be a couch potato. She is the illustrator of Dear Girl, and What Matters. Holly lives in Whitby, Ontario, with her wacky husband and even wackier son.
Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, was reviewed by Trevor Jockims. Discover more books like Dear Girl by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Books About Identity, Inspirational Books, Picture Book, and Self-Empowerment.
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