Saturday, August 27, 2011

Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime by Myra Wolfe

An up-front disclaimer of sorts: Myra Wolfe is a close friend of mine. Close enough that I'd almost be willing to perjure myself and say really nice things about her book even if it was only so-so. Luckily for me, I don't have to whitewash a single word in this review of her forthcoming debut picture book, Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime, illustrated by Maria Monescillo.

Shall I tell you why I love this book all for its own self? I believe so - and I feel a list coming on:

1. I was not a girly girl when I was young. Oh, I wore dresses on occasion. (Heck, I am of an age that when Easter rolled around, I wore a hat and little white gloves along with my Easter dress, roll-down lace-trimmed white socks and patent leather Mary Janes. Those of you who are scratching your heads asking "But aren't you Jewish?" aren't confused - I am. But I wasn't always. And boy have I digressed. Ahem . . . ) But I was more likely to be found up a tree than in a rocking chair, more likely to be making mud pies than having a tea party, and far more likely to be pretending to be a soldier, cowboy, or pirate than I was to be playing Barbie dolls or pretending to be a princess (unless, of course, I was a pirate princess or something similar).

2. As a result of #1, I have a soft spot for things like girls in drag (one of my favorite tropes, as long-time readers know) or girls in non-traditional roles. Like little girl pirates. Especially little girl pirates who have an eyepatch-wearing teddy bear named One-Eyed Tom.

3. I love excellent words and the use of wordplay. This is, again, no surprise to long-time readers and to those of you who know that I'm a poet. Check out the image and text from the first spread in the book:

Charlotte Jane the hearty came howling into the world with the sunrise.

"Arr. She's finer than a ship full of jewels," said her mother, smiling.

"Arr," agreed her father.

"Also," said her mother, "she's got oomph."

"Formidable oomph," said her father.
This book is ideal for every fan of pirates, for readers who (like me) appreciate girls in nontraditional roles, and for every family that's ever battled bedtime, this book is a must-have. And hey - it'll be available just in time for September 19th, which is (as we all know) "Talk Like a Pirate Day".

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