I absolutely loved Yasmeen Ismail’s Specs for Rex but I love this one even more. Herein she counters pretty much every gender stereotype going with her wonderful ‘No holds barred’ aardvark heroine who charges around in shorts doing stunts on her scooter, is super-brave and has a seemingly insatiable thirst for knowledge about anything and everything. ‘Surely that must be a boy,’ thinks the librarian, and a whole host of others she encounters as she zooms about doing things very much her own way, having to counter each and every assumption with her assertion ‘I’m a girl!’
But it’s not only the adults who get it wrong: ‘Mummy, look. He’s going to win’ states a young onlooker at the race. Even at nursery some of her contemporaries need setting straight. ‘There’s no right or wrong way to play when you “pretend” ’ she asserts in response to the ‘Dolls are for girls’ comment from one of the group. And then, at last, she meets a small lion with similar ‘be yourself, no matter what’ ideals who is happy to be his very own unique individual.
Yasmeen Ismail’s wonderfully anarchic illustrations of the young are so full of a zest for life and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the heroine is prepared to stop just short of the finish line and let others win the race, so determined is she to get her message across to all and sundry.
This is a book I’d like to see in every Bookstart bag in the near future.