MSGL Book Reviews

Looking for a good book? Read what MSGL staff, parents, and students have to say about their favorites.rss

Children's Book Review - My Name is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?

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 

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.

Happy reading,




Children's Book Review: Someday

I am blessed with six nieces who are, in turn, blessed by having everything they need. I give them books for Christmas gifts. Every child needs a new book.

This year, the 7-year-olds will be receiving Someday written by Eileen Spinelli, author of When Mama Comes Home Tonight and Something to Tell the Grandcows. It is illustrated by Rosie Winstead who is also an author with a new book, Sprout Helps Out, due in Spring 2014.

The girl in Someday looks like a 7-year-old and that’s what made it stand out among the picture books, to me. She’s a big kid and even though the story will really appeal to those strong young women on your list, it’s a great story for even younger children, too.

In Someday, the girl is dreaming about the great things she will accomplish someday when she is older. Someday she will have lunch with the President at the White House. She will give him a box of golf balls and she will not drop any of her salad on the rug. 

The story alternates from this someday of the future to today when she is preparing for those adventures. Today she is eating lunch with her little brother Roger who talks with his mouth full and spills his milk. Someday she will spend the night in Egypt and sleep next to a pyramid. Tonight she is sleeping next to Roger because he is afraid of monsters. 

The future is described in grown-up detail while the present is written more simply. She is not really wishing for the future but she is aware that she will be more confident and have it together - someday. I imagine that the girl's current and future selves are able to communicate and they take turns writing this story. 

Rosie Winstead's inviting illustrations show an imperfect and changing girl who is beautiful, uncertain, sometimes bossy and sometimes very kind. She’s a real girl and this book takes her and its young readers seriously. There are also a few secrets in the illustrations that children will enjoy discovering for themselves. I highly recommend this book for any young ladies on your holiday or birthday gift list.

Someday was published by Dial in 2007. It is 32 pages and available in hardcover and paperback editions.

Happy reading!