Reel Girl’s book recs of the week

Reel Girl recs this week feature super passionate heroines. All three Reel Girl rates ***GGG*** Triple Girlpower. Make sure you read these to your sons as well as your daughters!

Knuffle Bunny is one of my all time, absolute favorite books for kids. How do I love thee, let me count the ways…

First, the book begins with my total as yet unrealized fantasy: Father and child do the laundry (they go off to a launrdomat in Brooklyn) while the mom sits on the steps, a book you know she’s about to crack open held lovingly on her lap.

Next amazing thing about this book? Our main character, who I think is younger than two,  sports no bow or curly eyelashes (just like the female Red Wolf of Reel Girl’s last recs.) With her overalls, Trixie wears a pink T shirt, but it’s no big deal. I’m not against pink for God’s sake, just Pink World Domination.

One of my favorite illustrations is in the laundromat when Trixie puts pants on her head and waves a bra in the air, her dad watching and smiling at her. Maybe I’m reading too much into this picture, but I think it’s a lovely commentary on adulthood and the various costumes we all wear.

Next is the best part of the book: When Trixie and her dad walk home and she realizes that she’s lost Knuffle Bunny, her big eyed, terrified expression is priceless. This picture communicates terror better than Munch’s Scream. Trixie tries desperately to communicate the disappearance to her to her dad (“Aggle flaggle klabble!”) but he’s oblivious.

At this point in the reading, I have never seen a kid not be totally wrapped up in the story, relating to what it’s like to lose a favorite animal and to have your parents not understand what’s going on. Both parent and child become increasingly frustrated which leads to my favorite sentence in the book (that my husband and I have used ever since to describe a tantruming child) “She went boneless.”

I won’t tell you how this story ends, but I have no doubt Knuffle Bunny will be one of your kid’s favorites.

Mary Had a Little Lamp is a funny book about a heroine who follows her heart and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of her.

This is a great book to read to your kid if she feels uncomfortable around her peers for liking a toy or outfit or anything that the rest of them aren’t into. Kids will also relate to this book because, like Knuffle Bunny, it’s about an attachment object. It’s impossible to read this without a huge grin on your face at the end.

The Old Woman Who Named Things is about another passionate female, but this one starts out afraid of her strong feelings.

She’s elderly so doesn’t want to get attached to something that might die or fall apart, including old furniture or cars. She only wants to get attached to objects she can trust will be there forever. But when a stray puppy befriends her, she can’t help but care for it. (The genderless puppy is either called “it” or “shy brown dog” which I like.) The old woman refuses to name the puppy to try to control her attachment to the animal, but when the dog disappears, she finally starts to take some risks that help to make her feel more alive.

6 thoughts on “Reel Girl’s book recs of the week

  1. “Knuffle Bunny” looks like a cute book,

    The style seemed familiar, so I looked up the author Mo Willems. Sure enough, he created one of my favorite animated series, “The Off Beats”, a somewhat Peanuts-esque cartoon featuring a group of kids. The protagonists were the titular Off-Beats, consisting of five kids (two of them girls, one of them, Betty Ann Bongo, being the leader).

    The antagonists were the popular clique known as “The Populars”, although only one to have a name and personality is the leader, a girl named Tina.

    Mo Willems also did a show called “Sheep in the Big City”, a Rocky and Bullwinkle inspired show. Only one recurring female character, a rich lady named Lady Richington. The running gag is that she wears a stainless steel wig (yes, seriously) and always smacks Sheep with it whenever she sees him.

  2. my son and I love knuffle bunny 1 and 2 for the exact same reasons you mention. But it’s very white, especially to be set in brooklyn. #2 does have a girl of color and her dad as supporting characters. i’m just getting into your site, but i’m hoping there’s an intersectional lens that you use to give ***GGG*** Triple Girlpower ratings…how monoracially white are the other books?

    • Hi Ludovic,

      Thanks for bringing up the issue of girls of color as protags in kidslit. Upcoming GGG books for review with protags of color include Lola Loves Stories, Jojo’s Flying Sidekick, Ruby’s Wish, Lola at the LIbrary. I have more as well but would love suggestions. Books I see are predominantly white but I am seeking out others. I have reviewed the Seven Chinese Sisters. Anthlogiies like the one I just reviewed and The Serpent Slayer feauture women of color. To me, racism is not as rampant in sexism in kid’s media because so many creatures are animal and imaginary, the race is ambiguous but the gender is stereotyped. Let me know what you think.


  3. Great books!

    I want to read them so badly now.

    The first one reminded me of a book series I read when I was little, of a six year old girl called Coralie (they are originally in French but I guess there must be and English translation somewhere cause I read them in Spanish).

    My mom bought them for me and I still keep two of them (the other ones I gave as a gift to a friend learning Spanish). They are about this girl and her dog who go on day-to-day adventures. If you want to check them out the author’s name is Jöelle Barnabé, he writes mostly about girls. And apparently he wrote another series about a girl named Marjorie and her dog Bucky which by the covers look a little older more adventurous than Coralie.

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