If I walk into either of my girls’ rooms in the morning and ask them what they would like to wear today, it’s a pretty good chance that they’ll respond with “pink polka dot pants, my orange and green flowered dress, my purple and blue striped socks, my yellow shoes… and my red hat.” Or sometimes I’ll make a clothing suggestion and I’ll get a resounding “No!” closely followed by that list. They’ve got the words in this book down.
The girls love Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine because there’s something very satisfying to a kid about having an opinion about something and sticking to it despite the options presented by parents and older siblings. The book is about asserting independence, but not in a way that makes parents cringe. Ella Sarah has a definite opinion about what she wants to wear – but it’s for a good reason. She’s getting together with friends for tea, and they are all decked out in their mismatched finest. It’s the right amount of opinion without turning into a story about a foot stomping petulant child. There are plenty of children’s books out there about those kids.
They also love it because each of them has one of their names on the cover. That’s always fun.
I love the book because of the (try to contain your shock here) illustrations. There are a variety of printmaking techniques employed by Chodos-Irvine in the book, and she nails it with Ella Sarah on each page. The various articles of clothing, the rich backgrounds of wallpaper and furniture, that adorable stuffed cat that at one point sails across the page. Perfection. If you are interested, check out that link above to see a step by step slide show of the creation of a girl with a flower by layering. It’s fascinating.
Ella Sarah is a perfect read for the two to five year old range, and although it’s girl heavy, Ella Sarah has girl and boy friends that show up in the end. It’s also a fun book to read with kids as they are getting a handle on color names, and the repeition of Ella Sarah’s lines quickly get memorized and repeated by the reader and the listeners. It’s a really fun read along book. Sometimes both girls will get up and “act out” putting on each article of clothing – but they like any excuse to get on the floor and move while we’re reading. I think they could put interpretive movements to the reading of the newspaper if we asked them too.
So, what are your kids’ favorite clothing choices in their own closet? F would choose a bathing suit every day if I’d let her. And every time she sees a red hat (once even, at church) she’ll yell “There’s Ella Sarah’s red hat!”
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!