Written by: Ashley Franklin
Illustrated by: Ebony Glenn
For ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Acceptance, Racism, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Development, Family, Love, Friendship, Perseverance, Theatre, Own Voices.
Summary: Tameika was born to perform. She sings, dances, and taps everywhere she goes. With a fantastic imagination, she breathes life into a myriad of characters such as a space cowgirl and even a pickle! Tameika has never been a princess, but luckily one day at school she spots the audition poster for Snow White-finally this is her chance! After the audition, Tameika hears her classmates talking about her. She can’t be a princess, she’s too tall. She’s too chubby. Tameika is too brown. Her heart sinks. Is she all of those things? Tameika slouches and sucks in her tummy, but the brownness remains. Tameika slumps home and doesn’t sing through dinner like usual. Before bed, her parents are finally able to get what’s wrong out of her. Tameika’s father assures her that Snow White isn’t real, but Tameika is his real-life princess. Her mother tells Tameika that she’s the one who has it wrong-she’s just tall enough, just brown enough to be a princess. Heartened by this, Tameika begins to feel better. At the second day of auditions, Tameika sings her heart out. She is in fact, perfect amounts of everything to be a princess. Specifically, Snow White.
This book is so important. It nails the crux of the issue-there is too little representation in the media that children consume. We are used to seeing white princesses that are petite and beautiful with flowing blond hair. Without diverse role models, children believe that they can’t in fact be what interests them. We see this dilemma of the single story with fairy-tales, women in STEM careers, and men in careers that are deemed “feminine” like nursing and dancing. The racial diversity or lack thereof is a plague that children subconsciously become imprinted with, and this develops into beliefs like the ones that Tameika’s classmates were spouting off behind her back. By having these conversations in books and with young children, coupled with reading and creating an intentional bookshelf we can begin to combat these harmful notions that not everyone can achieve anything.
- What would you say to someone that you overheard talking about someone else?
- Has there ever been a time that you felt the way Tameika did when she heard others judging her appearance?
- What do you think a princess looks like?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Have you ever acted in a play? You can turn your favorite classroom stories into short and fun plays to perform for other classes or each other. Some ones that have been popular in classrooms we have been in are King Bidgood and The Book With No Pictures. These were adapted from the books into short plays with simple lines that 4-5 year old students could memorize and perform.
- Have class visitors that would be deemed “unconventional” visit your class. A female pilot, male dancer, a non-binary actor. Begin to show the representations you feel are lacking in books and the media that your classroom or family consume.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Ashley Franklin is the author and this is her debut book! Here is a fantastic interview with KidLit TV, which I bet you’ll enjoy! Ashley Franklin is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her debut picture book, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, was published in Summer 2019 by Harper Collins. Ashley received her M.A. from the University of Delaware in English Literature. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and two sons, ages 6 and 4.
Ebony is also the proud recipient of the 2018 Wonders of Childhood Focus Fellowship, an award given by AIR Serenbe, a nonprofit artist residency program of the Serenbe Institute in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. We’ve even talked about Ebony before when reviewing the book Mommy’s Khimar as well as featured her on one of our Sound Off Saturday posts!
A passion for the arts, great storytelling, and advocating diversity in children’s books, she aims to create illustrations that will foster a love of reading in young readers. She also loves to create joyful and heartwarming crafts to satisfy her endless need to always make new things.
When Ebony is not giving in to her creative itch of art-making, you may find her lost in the pages of a good book, learning some new hula-hooping tricks, or going on an adventure with her pups, Louie and Gabby.