It's been a tough 2020/2021 for everyone but one of the things that keeps me going is teaching the little ones at my school. This week turned out to be a week of smiles with some of my favourite teacher librarian moments.
My kindergartners are doing a unit on Fairy Tales in their regular class, so I thought I'd mix it up and give them a new way of looking at princesses and Cinderella tales by reading them Babette Cole's Prince Cinders and Princess Smartypants. They are definitely not new but I love Babette, and think she was ahead of her time when it came to gender equality, identity and empowerment of women.
When I showed the class the cover of Princess Smartypants, mister four and a half piped up and said, 'I don't like stories about princesses because there's so much girl stuff in them.' 'What's 'girl stuff'?' I asked to which he replied, 'You know - lots of things that are pink, lots of ponies, the boys having to save the girl ALL the time - and lots of kissing!' 'Hmmm. . ' says I. 'Well, there's not much pink in this one, but there is a pony. Oh and there's a dragon, a motorbike and a racing car in there too. Let's see what you think when we've finished reading.'
After the first few pages he was giggling at all the crazy situations her prince suitors had gotten themselves into and laughed out loud after Princess Smartypants kissed the prince and turned him into a big, fat, ugly toad!
'So what did you think about the story?' I asked him. 'It was soo funny. I really liked when she kissed the prince and turned him into a toad. And none of the boys had to rescue her 'cause she was really smart!' Thanks Babette. It all starts somewhere. . . .
Oh - and her books on reproduction and puberty are told in a funny and informative way without being clinical and confronting. If you don't have these two in your collection for sex education you need to get them - Hairy In Funny Places and Mummy Laid An Egg. They are brilliant.
Sadly Babette passed away in 2017 but her warmth and humour live on in her wonderful stories. Check them out on her website Babette Cole.