How To Be a Hero / Mary Had a Little Glam

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How to be a Hero
Florence Parry Heide and Chuck Groenink
Chronicle Books
Anyone who has read The Shrinking of Treehorn will be familiar with the author’s wry humour: that same humour is inherent in this posthumously published picture book. Meet Gideon, a nice boy who lives with his parents in a nice house and has, seemingly, everything a boy could want. What young Gideon really wants though is to be a hero but he’s not quite sure how to go about it. He has some ideas though: You have to be strong, brave and clever like this surely?

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After further foraging into fairytales such as this one ‘the story where a witch gives a girl a poisoned apple and when she takes a bite she goes into a deep sleep which is sort of being dead but not really and nothing will get her awake except a kiss and someone does see her sleeping there and he kisses her and he’s a hero, just like that.’ however, he comes to the conclusion that really, all this heroism takes is just being in the right place at the right time. QED! Well that and err… keeping your eyes open. This does entail actually noticing what’s going on around you though – something of which Gideon appears unaware, as heroic act opportunities present themselves to left and right as he heads, eventually, to the supermarket to spend his pocket money.

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There, a heroic act is, assuredly performed but by whom? Yes, Gideon is the recipient of a whole lot of media attention but for what? Wish fulfilled, he’s certainly front-page news – a hero. Err? He certainly thinks so.
Groenink brings out the subtle humour of the telling beautifully; it’s there all the way through if you look closely – very closely in some places; and in others, such as the shop sign with its reference to Propp (Vladimir – Morphology of the Folk Tale) and (Bruno) Bettelheim above the butchers it’s likely to go over the heads of young children. I love the way he switches from the dreary reality of Gideon’s home and locality to the more colourful fantasy world of the fairy tale world he visits in his imagination.
Certainly with this book, it’s a case of what you bring to the story making a big difference to what you get out of it.

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Mary Had a Little Glam
Tammi Sauer and Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Sterling
A funky take on the nursery rhyme wherein fashion fanatic “I must accessorize” Mary starts school determined to make her mark. Seemingly her classmates at Mother Goose school are happy to merge into their surroundings though …

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Mary however, is set on bringing a whole lot more glitz and glamour to her pals. She gets to work adding accessories and generally jazzing up not just the pupils, but everyone and everything in her school.

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Playtime comes and with it a realisation that Mary and her decked-out pals are way too over-dressed for energetic outdoor romping and rampaging. No matter – Mary can turn her hand to un-accessorising too …

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and she’s certainly queen of messy play – hurray for Mary.
With its bouncy rhyme and suitably flamboyant illustrations of Mary and her supporting cast, this is lots of fun to share with those around Mary’s age.

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