Book of the Week
I am very good at having favorites. Every week during storytime, I tell the kids: 'this is one of my favorites!' and then inwardly roll my eyes. They are all 'my favorites'. But there are a few that really are. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, for example. Or Lewis's Till We Have Faces. I could read these books twenty times over and still feel that they are new to me. Among my true favorites, there are few picture books. Not because I am a snob about chapters, but it's difficult for me to put picture books in the same category as chapter books to begin with - and then to compare them? It just seems awkward.
But let me tell you about The Rough-Faced Girl. If I can. The little blurb on the inside flap calls it a Cinderella story, and I suppose it is that. More than suppose - there's a girl who sits by the cinders, who is mocked by her two proud sisters, who is chosen by the 'prince' instead of them, who is rescued from penury and obscurity by his love. So it's a Cinderella story. It's also a reminder that the Cinderella story is universal precisely because it is the human story. When reading The Rough-Faced Girl, you know yourself to be the mocked and scarred daughter, lost among the ashes. And you know yourself to be the proud sisters, arrogantly assuming the love of the Invisible Being without ever having seen his face - never having sought it! But you know, and you hope. And hope is not an inclination or even a determination, but a faith. And so, again, you are the rough-faced girl.
Reading The Rough-Faced Girl is rather like reading the verses from the book of Hebrews that tell you to approach the throne of grace with confidence. Confidently vulnerable, having seen his face.
I was surprised, picking it up just now, to see that David Shannon did the illustrations. I just read How I Became a Pirate an hour ago for storytime (I love saying 'scurvy dog'), and I cannot imagine less-related images than Braid Beard's motley crew and the powerful illustrations of this Algonquin legend. Kudos, Mr. Shannon. Three cheers and a bottle of brandy. Anyway, read the book. And buy it. And give it to everyone for Christmas.