There are some books that find their way into our house because they contain a message that I would like to subtly convey to my children. In a world of “more more more” and always trying to “keep up with the Kardashians,” I find it important to leave little life lessons through books about a slightly more simple life where being true to yourself and not necessarily conforming to anyone’s standards is more important then wearing the right designer label.
Many of the books that I discussed in the the post on princesses with panache fit this mold. Another book we’ve had for a while that I really like is Fanny. A good friend told me about this book and I immediately went on to Amazon to buy it. J enjoys this book. I’m not sure what message she gets from it, but hopefully she gets that just because everyone else has a certain toy, it doesn’t mean that she needs the exact same one.
The story is of a little girl named Fanny. For her birthday, more than anything else, she wants a Connie doll like her two best friends. Mom doesn’t like Connie dolls because they are “just too…much.” Connie comes off as a mix between Barbie & Bratz. I personally have no problems with my kids playing with Barbie dolls, but Bratz, Monster High and the like are not coming into our house, so I feel for Fanny’s mom. Fanny is a smart little girl, so when she realizes that mom really isn’t going to buy her a Connie, she makes her own doll. She was going to name her Connie, but then realizes that “maybe Connie isn’t exactly the best name for you,” so she names her Annabelle.
Fanny thinks that Annabelle is great until her two best friends come over to celebrate her birthday and bring along their Connie dolls. Her friends quickly got busy “dressing them and combing their long hair and posing them as gorgeous models and sassy celebrities.” When Fanny brought out Annabelle, her friends ignored her doll and Fanny starts to doubt Annabelle’s marvelousness. To make matters worse, when Fanny’s mom gets her a sewing machine for her birthday, her friends giggle about how they would never want a gift like that and prefer things that are “store-bought” anyway. I’m not sure if kids get that the behavior of these little girls is not ideal. J has started asking questions when statements like this get made, so we must be on the right track.
That night, Fanny thinks that Annabelle must be lonely stuffed in her drawer, where she put her when she was ashamed of Annabelle. She gets her out and realizes how special her doll is and that she really does love her because she made her. Fanny makes sure that Annabelle gets included when she plays with her friends. When she goes over to her friend Tiffany’s house and Fanny suggest they play veterinary hospital, Tiffany and Coco clap their hands saying their Connies can be nurses. Annabelle gets to be the doctor and all afternoon, “Dr. Annabelle performed operations on every stuffed animal Tiffany owned while the glamorous nurses assisted.”
That evening, Fanny decided to make clothes for Annabelle and her very own little doll, which she decided to name Connie.
I think this book is great. It even has a paper doll in the back for your child to make her very own doll. I love that Fanny is inventive enough to make her own doll. I love that in the face of her two friends looking down on her doll and her love of sewing, she realizes that Annabelle is special and that she can make things she wants instead of relying on other people to buy her things. I think it is very hard for little girls to grow up surrounded by messages about how they should look, how they should act, what music they should like, and consumerism in general and stay strong. I guess that’s why we have so many books that subtly tell my girls that it is okay. That being kind and smart is important. That asking questions and even questioning authority is great. When we are reading and J asks me things, I always point out to her what great questions she is asking. She isn’t just skimming by. My girls have always sort of marched to the beat of their own drummers and I want to make sure that they know that that is great thing for them to do.