My Name is Not Isabella is a delightful picture book by Jennifer Fosberry that introduces children to some of the strongest female figures in history, all seen through the eyes of a little girl. The mother in the story is wonderfully patient as her daughter cycles from being Isabella to Sally Ride to Annie Oakley to Rosa Parks and more. Bios on each of the women catching Isabella’s imagination are included in the back. My Name is Not Isabella should be able to spark discussions about the real people behind the names that Isabella decides to take on for a while. I highly recommend it. Here’s the book trailer if you’d like to take a look at it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Jam0f4rx8
I’m also happy to feature an essay from Jennifer Fosberry about the possibilities open for girls growing up now and about mothers and daughters. Read on to find out more:
Who is the Mother? Who is the Daughter?
There has been a significant amount of discussion about why I wrote the book My Name is Not Isabella. It will surprise no one that my oldest daughter is named Isabella. Much of what I have said is about my hopes for her, about how I want her not to believe, but to KNOW that she can do anything. Life is full of bumps, bruises and start-overs (not do-overs, start overs). But there is no opportunity she should be afraid to try.
In the past, girls might not have been allowed certain opportunities or career paths. But now it seems that our collective culture forgot to tell girls there are other choices besides princess and popstar. Exposure to options is key. That’s what I wanted to show in this book. That is why I chose the women I did, they are personal heroes to me.
I thought it fitting to talk about this mother-daughter relationship for a blog that deals with just that relationship. And reading.
So, let’s look at the other side of the equation.
There is something else about the book that I didn’t realize as I was writing it. Recently, I had a revelation after talking with my Dad. He said to me,
“Isabella (in the book) has so much character. nd she does remind me of your daughter. ut you do realize who the Mom is, right?”
And it hit me.
I always say that the Mom is the Mom I hope to be. She is playful, patient and present in her child’s life. But really, I was never the Mom in the book.
She is my Mom! I was lucky enough to grow up with that Mom. The Mom who read to me and let me see her read for herself. The Mom who dared me to dream, but taught me to stay humble.
Mom, I could have gotten you candy:
Mom I could have gotten you flowers:
And I know, you were a little jealous when I wrote that poem for Dad in high school. Your mother even asked me, “When are you going to write a poem for your mother?” So, it’s not a poem, or flowers or candy. But I wrote you a book! And I just wanted to share how much you continue to affect me and my choices. I love you and feel fortunate for the inspiration on both sides of the equation.
(And we end with a Math joke, so it’s not too sappy!)