Monday, March 5, 2012

Women's History Month Book Review: Every-Day Dress-up, by Selina Alko (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Nearly all little girls love to play dress-up.  When I was a little girl I remember loving to dress up in my grandmothers' clothes when I would visit them.  Today's children are more likely to have a collection of dress-up clothes or old Halloween costumes to play with.  But don't despair--despite the mammoth Disney marketing engine, little girls are not required to dress up as fairies or Disney princesses!

In this charming new picture book perfect for Women's History Month, author Selina Alko celebrates great women of history through one small girl's imagination and offers an alternative to the princess onslaught.  The book opens as follows:

"I used to only play princess/ until Mommy showed me pictures/ and told me stories of real, great women.
Now dressing up is an adventure/ when, every day of the week,/ I am a daring new dame!"

Each day of the week, our heroine dresses up as a different famous woman, including Amelia, First Lady of Flight, Ella, Queen of Jazz, Marie, Star-Studded Scientist, and Frida, Prized Painter.  She even marches in a parade with her flag as Elizabeth, Super Suffragist!  The colorful and whimsical illustrations show a child dressed up in costumes anyone could easily copy at home, and best of all, the little girl is even depicted putting away all her props and costumes  (The clean-up song from Barney went through my head at that point in the story!)  The story concludes with an inspirational message, "And when I'm older, I hope/ to have my own outstanding outfit,/so that little girls will sport costumes of me!"

Back matter includes brief biographies of the great women mentioned in the text, as well as a short list of picture books on some of the women in the book.  Endpapers offer paper-doll costumes and a paper doll, which could be color copied to be played with without destroying the book.

This is a delightful alternative to the plethora of princess books being published these days, and a great choice for preschoolers or early elementary school students.

For more on the inspiration for Every-Day Dress-up, see Selina's post at Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month.  You can also enter to win a copy of this book, and a number of other new titles for Women's History Month, by leaving a comment after her post on that site!  


Allison said...

This book sounds fantastic! I love it-- girly and fun, with an inspiring message about strong women in history. Perfect! I'll have to pick up a copy for my daughter.

PragmaticMom said...

I love the idea of this book ... takes the Disney princesses out of the equation and puts in real women instead. I think this is great for little girls! Too bad my girls are past dress up!