Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: My name is not Isabella

We recently had the opportunity to read "My Name is Not Isabella: How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?" by Jennifer Fosberry.  The Scholastic website provides a perfect description of the book.

About This Book
Join Isabella on an adventure of discovery and find out how imagining being the extraordinary women of history teaches the importantce of being one's own extraordinary self. With a great message about self-identity and self affirmation this delightful book is also a terrific way to spark young reader's interet in women's history.

The main character, Isabella, spends the day pretending she is any number of famous and extraordinary women. The pictures are nice and the prose is fine. But this book only gets three out of five stars from us. It is lacking two important things that we look for when we read books for my daughter (and her brother): a good protagonist and her compelling story and/or a powerful story about negotiating the ins and outs of a relationship.

In this book Isabella seems to be a walking talking facade. We don't really get a sense for her as a young girl. Instead, it feels more like a sneaky way to teach about extraordinary historical women. I rather would have read six books, each one a historical fiction treatment picturebook-style. Something like "On a Beam of Light" is for Albert Einsein or "ManFish" is for Jacques Cousteau, perhaps?

There are great books that teach about powerful and amazing women, both fictitious and real. Rosie Revere, Engineer comes to mind as does The Apple Pip Princess. And A Mighty Girl is an entire website dedicated to finding resources along those lines.

So, while I might recommend that you check this book out from the library and see what you think for yourself, I won't recommend that you buy it.

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