Tuesday, February 10, 2009


FANNY by Hollie Hobbie (Little, Brown)
If Barbie were a real person, she would be about a hundred pounds and be six feet high, wearing a size four with measurements of 39-19-33. Barbie's tiara was absconded temporarily in recent years by the sale of Bratz dolls, with heads the size of watermelons and a penchant for makeup, scoring them a not-very-coveted place in the 2007 American Psychological Association report from its Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Whether or not you view these little poppets as craven or just good-natured camp, with so many concerns about realistic body image and self-esteem in girls (including statistics suggesting the average American fourth grade girl has already been on a diet), there's bound to be one in any crowd who is just not allowed to play with them.

Enter that girl: Fanny. When her mother nixes all hopes of acquiring a coveted Connie Doll ("Because I don't like the way Connie dolls look," said her mother. "They're just too...much"), resourceful Fanny sews together her own very cheerful companion, naming her Annabelle. Duly snubbed by the high-fashion dolls and their owners, Fanny becomes self-conscious about the sewing machine she receives for her birthday. Fanny relegates Annabelle to a drawer until her heart compels her to accept her as different and unique, and leads the other girls to appreciate her for the same. As befitting the makeshift nature of the theme, the illustrations in this book are a little looser than some in the author's celebrated TOOT AND PUDDLE series, but have maintained all of the signature charm; the embrace between girl and doll in the moonlight is sigh-worthy, and Annabelle examining a teddy-bear with a stethoscope assisted by two long-legged hoochie-doll nurses is a hoot. This book is a battle-cry for young DIY'ers, and the fact that the rag-doll and plastic-doll constituencies manage to ultimately play in peace offers hope for the future of Girl Power without negating anyone's playtime tastes. I can't imagine any child not wanting a friend like Fanny, and anyone who has enjoyed the flair of Jane O'Connor's runaway bestseller FANCY NANCY or Rebecca Caudill's old-school classic THE BEST-LOVED DOLL will applaud the rag-doll revival and rugged spirit of individualism here. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
ROSIE FLO'S COLORING BOOK by Roz Streeten (Chronicle)
Not a read-aloud narrative, but a book I know I would have loved as a little girl, we have page after page of funky clothes floating on the pages, awaiting a pen to draw in heads, arms and legs and creative backgrounds. Color in all the get-ups in your favorite hues and shades! Also check out ROSIE FLO'S ANIMALS and ROSIE FLO'S GARDEN. A great gift for the the Junior Betsey Johnsons and Bob Mackies in your life, you might also want to have a supply of your own on hand to doodle in during staff meetings. (You didn't hear that from me.)(5 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
More Esmé stuff at www.planetesme.com.


Christine said...

These two sound ideal for my little eight year old DIYer who brings her knitting and a book wherever she goes in case wherever she's going (like her brother's hockey practice) gets boring.

Z-Kids said...

Wow - our girls would love that coloring book!

Burgin Streetman said...

i love that first book... i can think of at least four girl's who are in desperate need.

Anonymous said...

I love Toot and Puddle and Fanny sounds like something my seven year old would adore. Going on Library Request List right away!

Amy said...

I think the book about the girl and her doll is very prevalent in today's society and looks like it would be a good story that young girls might be interested in.

Bratz DressUp said...

Haha, I love how Barbie was defined on the first sentence. I am a Barbie and Bratz lover by the way. Well as far as the book is concerned, they looks good and kids will really love them.


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