As we read through the story, we find that what we see at face value isn’t always the whole picture. We learn that listening to others and validating their feelings is important.
Kanella is a stray dog who lives on the island of Lesvos in Greece. She’s scrawny, afraid of humans, the other dogs, and even the alley cats from whom she can steal away no food. She ekes out a lonely existence, until she finds a home among the camp workers who have arrived to help refugees from the Middle East embark on the next leg of their perilous journey (this is implied by the description of the refugees, and confirmed in the Author’s Notes).
For a book about an aspiring comedian, Pretty Funny for a Girl is pretty heartbreaking. And that may just be the point. Haylah Swinton has
Told simultaneously from her perspective and that of her daughters, this story shows readers what determination is all about and gives a perfect example of how hard work, dedication, and a hunger to make a difference can lead to an exceptional end.
One of the most powerful things I observed during this past summer of demonstrating for racial justice was just how influential young people, sometimes very young people, were to the movements in my community. Whitney Houston sang, “I believe the children are our future.” I say, “thank Heaven.” Hopefully they’ll do a better job than we have. In the meantime, baby activists will want to add this inspiring book to their reference collection.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a picture book paint such an honest and straightforward treatment of a mental disorder in a parent, and I can imagine what a relief it would provide for young readers to see that parts of their story are shared with others.
With a charming cast of characters like flamboyant and gorgeous dance phenom Alec, cruel dance teacher Millicent Moore, singer/songwriter Fletch, mean girls Natasha and Jade, and terrifying martinet Cecile Duke, the plot moves along in a way that is comforting if a little predictable. Fans of Singin’ in the Rain will know exactly where the story is going, but they will enjoy getting there tremendously.
The Disney versions of the fairy tales that most Americans grew up with were not the tales I was used to. The version of Cinderella I grew up with for example, was based on the Brothers Grimm story where the step-sisters each cut off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper. Cinderella also exacts vengeance on her sisters, summoning doves to peck out their eyes after her wedding to the prince. Bedtime stories for little children, these were not.
Written in a breezy, conversational style, the book is a quick read, for all its depth. Felix is engaging, appealing, and faces the most appalling adult dilemmas with grit and grace. His plight will be great fodder for discussion in the classroom or around the dinner table.