It’s International Womens Day! So I am celebrating one of my new favourite little women from my picture book shelf…Rita! She’s brave, bold and filled with great ideas and plenty of imagination. I have previously talked about Rita Wants a Witch and Rita Wants a Robot. They are now joined by three new Rita books published by Graffeg Ltd. in the last couple of months. I love them all!
Rita Wants A Ninja by Máire Zepf, illustrations by Mr Ando (January 2022; ISBN: 9781802580464) finds young Rita wanting a ninja who will help her train her mind and body so she will be fast, silent and invisible. She and her ninja could hide anywhere and only be found when she wants to be found. They would be invincible, and defeat her foes quickly and easily. But Rita doesn’t really like fighting. But ninjas also steal precious objects…what if her ninja stole something she loves? Where would it all end?
In Rita Wants A Fairy Godmother by Máire Zepf, illustrations by Mr Ando (February 2022; ISBN: 9781802580440) Rita doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning. It’s no fun at all! So, she dreams up a fairy godmother to help! Her fairy godmother would only have to twirl her magic wand and Rita would be dressed and ready for any occasion! No more listening to Mum tell her to “hurry up!”; no more effort…and she would have the most beautiful clothes! But what if her fairy godmother makes her clothes too fancy? Or gives her the wrong shoes? What if her friends laugh at her? How far would her fairy godmother go?
All of the Rita books are beautifully, with a small amount of text, using just the right words to enchant the youngest readers. They express the day-to-day thoughts, feelings and dramas of every child and bring imagination and creativity to the fore as busy, bold, wonderful Rita explores her problem-solving ability with great aplomb. There is always a “counter-point” thinking that comes into play as her imagination takes her logically to the places her wild dreams could go wrong, bringing her back to the thought that maybe things work out just fine if she does it herself…without fantastical intervention. In fact, it could be easier. But how much fun is it to dream!
The illustrations are perfect with the story and are one of the best examples of what happens when an author and illustrator are working with one mind. Brightly coloured, full of movement and clear, expressive details, they give us an amusing and insightful look into the mind, imagination and emotions of the child. And that is what these stories are all about; how children experience and feel in their lives.
The latest book takes a slightly different turn and I have to say, I think it’s my favourite yet…
Rita Wants a Dragon by Máire Zepf, illustrations by Mr Ando (31 March 2022; ISBN: 9781914079665) In what should be a day filled with winter fun, Rita becomes cross…in fact, she becomes furious! Rita wants a dragon! She imagines a fierce dragon who makes the ground shake. The dragon breathes hot, angry fire and roars roars to make the whole world shudder. But all this stomping, roaring and fire-breathing makes the dragon exhausted. So they fly away to somewhere they can be alone…and Rita knows just what to do to make them both feel much better.
As I said…just a bit different, in its’ outcome. Here, Rita knows she wants to keep her dragon. There is an understanding that anger is okay, but it has its time-limit. And Rita explains to the dragon what we need to do when anger gets the better of us. Practical, comforting and so soothing, this is a story that allows us to understand that feelings are okay; in fact, they’re important. And we won’t be punished or thought of as “bad” for our feelings. Not even by ourselves. Such an important gift to give ourselves. Rita Wants a Dragon shows us that we’re fine just as we are.
For more on this and all the wonderful Rita books (and many, many other brilliant childrens books) follow the link: https://graffeg.com/collections/childrens-books