CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
When-I-was-a-little-girl was first published in 1989. It has been reissued with new illustrations. Gilmore has taken the oft used words by mothers and grandmothers, “When I was a little girl,” and turned them into a character of the same name of untold virtue and prissiness. She is illustrated in ghost-like fashion. Her dress and classic Mary Jane shoes are immaculate. Every hair is perfectly in place at all times. On the other hand, Lisabeth, the real little girl, wears tee-shirts with shorts or jeans, goes barefoot, or wears rubber boots or slip-on shoes. Her hair is usually in disarray. The contrast between the appearances of the two girls adds subtle humour to the story. Lisabeth says, “Yee-yuck!” to liver and onions with no dessert for dinner. When-I-was-a-little-girl says, “Oh, yummy! Thank you so much. Who needs dessert after this!” Besides the mealtime incident, picking up toys, wading in puddles, and coming in promptly from outside play are other episodes in the story that increase Lisabeth’s frustration with When-I-was-a-little-girl. In desperation, Lisabeth calls her grandmother for help. When she arrives, she acknowledges that she has met When-I-was-a-little-girl before. Through humorous dialogue, she dispels the perfection of the perfect little girl until Lisabeth’s mother suggests that it is time for When-I-was-a-little-girl to leave. And she does. The book ends with mother reading to Lisabeth in bed and suggesting that they play together tomorrow. Although the book is most suited for students in Grades K-2, older students could relate to it, as well as adults. In some discussions (e.g. families, relationships, memories, facial expressions in art) in Grades 3-6, this book might be useful as a “jumping off” point.
Jeannette Timmerman is a former teacher and principal with the Winnipeg (MB) School Division.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.