|For me, the best anti-princess books are those that don’t try too hard, that make their point subtly, with the stories and pictures coming first, the “message,” resting underneath. Two recent charmers are Nancy Coffelt’s Fred Stays With Me , with illustrations by Tricia Tusa, and Holly Keller’s Nosy Rosie . Each features a little girl who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.
The main character of Fred Stays With Me doesn’t have a name, but she does have Fred, the incorrigible dog who goes back and forth with her as she travels from her mom’s house to her dad’s. Though her divorced parents try to keep things stable for her, Fred is her anchor, her soul mate. But Fred eats her dad’s socks; he barks too much and makes messes at her mom’s, and each parent declares Fred a goner.
Our little girl will have none of it. Insisting that “Fred stays with me,” she enlists each parent in solving the problem of Fred and triumphs in the end. With delightful soft color illustrations and a simple sentence on each page, this is a delightful book for very young readers.
||| Rose is a fox with an acute sense of smell that allows her to sniff out all manner of missing things. Her friends are so impressed with her skill that they take to calling her “Nosy Rosie ,” a name she doesn’t like at all. When they continue to call her that after she asks them not to, Rosie simply refuses to answer and goes off by herself to enjoy the scents of the forest. But when her baby brother goes missing and only Rosie can find him, everyone is overjoyed. “Awesome,” they call her; “amazing”; “incredible.” Despite the adulation, Rose insists that she’s just Rose...the only name she wants. And this time they listen.
Books for little kids don’t need to preach. They need just to show. These do.