The Storybook Shoppe is honoring Black History Month with dozens of interesting choices in store. My daughter, Molly, and I were in the store on Friday. Miss Bonnie recommended Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. We grabbed a seat upstairs in the store and began reading...
Molly liked this story instantly, starting with this page where it introduces a familiar rags to riches princess tale. It's about a poor, young African American girl growing up in Louisiana during the Jazz Age (post WW1, 1920's.) Much to my dismay, Molly saw the crown and said: "She's going to become a princess!"
The girl has dreams of making it big -- dancing, singing and performing -- in the big city! So she heads to New York.
With persistence her dreams are realized, but not fully. She plays a "blackface", a characterized, stereotypical African-American who white people make fun of, and thankfully decides this is not the way to follow her dreams. So off to grand ole Paris!
It's only in Paris where she can truly become the star she wishes to be! Happy ending.
I found this book very interesting. For one thing, its rare that you find a "time piece" book for children - a story set in the 1920's proves interesting. It's written in a "jazz" rhythm, too. It's challenging to tackle subjects like poverty, inequality, and "black face" with a 4 year old, but certainly you can approach them. What better way then with a catchy, beautifully illustrated book to open the conversation?
At the end of the day, this is the beauty of children's literature. It opens our children's minds to new worlds, topics, the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable and allows parents to answer questions. Thanks to Miss Bonnie for recommending this one - we really enjoyed it.
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