This book is another gift selection this year, this time for my 3-year-old niece. It was a New York Times Best Seller in 2011 and it fits nicely in this week's duo of books about girls growing up to be strong women.
My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? follows little Isabella through her day at home and school. Each time her mother calls to her to come down for breakfast or to get ready for bed Isabella announces that she has become someone else.
"Good morning, Isabella," the mother said. "It's time to get up and out of bed."
"My name is not Isabella!" said the little girl.
"Then who has been sleeping in my daughter's bed?" asked the mother.
"I am Sally, the greatest, toughest astronaut who ever was!"
"Well, Sally, blast out of your bed, put on your space suit and come downstairs for breakfast."
From astronaut Sally Ride to sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Isabella imagines she is many different influential women throughout history. And each time she changes her mind her mom responds with patience and a great sense of humor. Mike Litwin's illustration style varies throughout the book to include drawings and photo collages. Looking for these subtle differences in the images adds to the fun. When it's time to get on the school bus, Isabella becomes civil rights activist Rosa Parks. I was moved by Litwin's illustration of this page in Isabella's history.
Author Jennifer Fosberry keeps the text simple using just the first names of each historical figure but she provides biographies at the end of the book as well as a list of works consulted that will guide you to more information about each woman. This story is not "teachy" but it provides a nice jumping-off point for a discussion between a caregiver and child about how these women - and many others - have changed the world.
This book is also available with a boy at the center of the story in My Name is Not Alexander: Just How Big Can a Little Kid Dream? Another exciting option is to have this story customized with your special child's name at putmeinthestory.com.
My Name Is Not Isabella was published in 2008 by Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. It is 32 pages and is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book versions.