Friday, August 3, 2018

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd August 2018: "Girls Can Do Anything" by Caryl Hart and Ali Pye (Scholastic Picture Books)

Our Second Picture Book of the Week once again finds us in total awe of a book that puts a new spin on this year's massively popular children's book trend...
"Girls Can Do Anything" by Caryl Hart and Ali Pye initially caused quite a ruckus at home, purely because if there's one thing we really want to see accompanying this year's trend for "Mighty Girl" books, it's a less gender-specific "Books for Girls / Books for Boys" approach.

This book unashamedly aims its sights at girls (despite the blue cover) - which is a real pity as the message in here is just as relevant to boys, and the inspirational factual women mentioned in the book would be equally inspirational to boys and girls, or even children who do not identify with either gender readily.

So here's the thing, this book is fantastic for a number of reasons.

Caryl's rhyming style is just breathtaking and always has been. The book trucks along in an almost sing-song fashion as each page spread shows mighty girls all the amazing things they can do now, and all the incredible things they can aspire to do in later life.

I like the fact that each set of Ali's illustrations is filled with such a huge amount of positivity and joy, and just about every 'default' is pitched in favour of a truly stunning, individual and diverse cast of kids who are busy doing all these amazing things. This is important for all kids, and as C sagely points out, there's at least one child in any spread in this that could be her, or her friends - any of her friends - and as we know from the recent findings about diversity in children's books, that's vitally important, reinforcing the book's core message that YOU (yes you, the reader) can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it, regardless of gender, race or ability.

I do know a little bit more of the background to this book than I feel I can talk about in this review, but we do need books that have huge early-years appeal, because in our experience that's where those hideous notions of 'boys do this, girls do that' start to creep in and various influences - either familial or external - start setting children's minds in one particular direction when it comes to their belief in themselves, their idea of gender specific roles or indeed their later aspirations to move into one type of vocation or another.

So hooray for this book, hooray for producing something so beautifully well rounded and non-lecturing that is fun, fizzing with energy and busy-ness but dang, would we have ever loved to have seen this come out as "YOU can do anything" with a good gender (and even non-gender-specific) mix throughout.

C's best bit: The amazing drummer girl in a wheelchair who looks like the coolest person on the planet.

Daddy's favourite bit: We need books like this, we need them early on in children's development and we need them to ensure that children develop colossal belief in themselves early on - but we do need to ensure books don't creep back to the bad old days of 'books for boys / books for girls'.

"Girls Can Do Anything" by Caryl Hart and Ali Pye is out now, published by Scholastic Picture Books.