“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Everyday Dress Up • Picture book

Everyday Dress Up 
written and illus. by Selina Alko
Available now   Knopf Books for Young Readers   Ages 5 - 8

It's no secret that little girls love playing dress up, but the little girl in this book ditches her princess duds in favor of costumes inspired by great women in history.

I used to only play princess
Until Mommy showed me pictures
And told me stories of real, great women.

Now dressing up is an adventure
When, every day of the week,
I am a daring new dame!

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to chef extraordinaire Julia Child to queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, our protagonist pays homage to the women who came before her and imagines herself in their shoes. Maybe someday she'll inspire little girls with her own gown of greatness.

Story behind the story:  Selina loved playing dress up as a child and now enjoys helping her kids play dress up—especially on Halloween. She was inspired to write Everyday Dress Up as a way to give her daughter alternatives to all the princess dress-up books on her shelves. Through her art, writing and childrearing, Selina believes in instilling open-mindedness in children, as well as sparking their imaginations to be and do whatever their little hearts and minds desire.  SELINA ALKO is the acclaimed author-illustrator of I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother and B Is for Brooklyn, and the illustrator of the beloved My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children.


"A happy antidote to the princess plague." – Kirkus Reviews
'A well-meaning. . .reminder of girls’ potential." – Publishers Weekly

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...


Anonymous said...

What a creative way to encourage expressive play as well as getting a mini lesson about some of the most famous women in history!

wordwarrior said...

I absolutely adore this book! I tore it open and read it as soon as the UPS man rang my doorbell! I have a strong conviction for literature that encourages girls to embrace many possibilities and professions. I also truly appreciate books that hold up role models (especially female ones) to encourage today's youth to reach for the stars! The "Everyday Dress Up" picture book fulfills all my requirements for quality literature. This book brings quality female role models forth to illustrate the many ways a young girl(or boy) can achieve their dreams and become valued members in today's society. I also found the picture/brief biography index in the back helpful to brainstorm extended activities following the sharing of this book. I will certainly share and recommend this book to fellow teachers and librarians. I give it 5 stars and would take it on any picnic!

Anonymous said...

Great book! Really encourages girls "to be all they can be". I really like books where a connection to writing can be easily made. This book could easily be used as a starting point for simple reports on famous women.
Although I loved the content, I did not like the illustrations. I would rate this book a 4.

Julie M. said...

I really enjoyed this book. I have a lot of young ladies who are new to the country, and this book can help build confidence, and an awareness of strong women. I liked the way non-fiction was integrated with the fiction story. I will use this often for character building, as well as how to write a story using factual information. I give this book a 4~

Carol said...

Every-Day Dress-Up offers opportunities for discourse before one opens the book. Young listeners and readers will relate to the character's role playing. The author's choice of using this activity to inspire a wonder and schema around great women of history is fantastic. This is a book that will be reread and new meaning and understandings will be constructed each time. Historical fiction and biography like text should begin to appear in picture books!

I love that the end papers are of a paper doll (the main character) and four outfits that represent the women in the story. The vocabulary throughout the book offers opportunities to explore new words, with words like dame, scat, Suffragist, and plie'to name just a few. The illustrations are beautiful and interesting. The use of gouache and collage was a perfect medium for this book. The description of the great women at the end of the book is such a thoughtful and informative feature.

This picture book is a demonstration of an author who respects young learners and wants little girls and little boys alike to know about the amazing women who have helped shaped the world they live in.

5/5 Rating


Catherine said...

Every-Day Dress-Up is a wonderful book. I love it! It presents a positive attitude for girls. They don't have to settle. They can be strong women. Even better, it is okay to be themselves. This book is being added to my teaching bookshelf. My students need more positive role models and this one fits the bill perfectly.

This definitely rates a 5.

Catherine Yezak, Special Education Teacher, Marquette Area Public Schools, Marquette, Michigan

Teachers Finding Funding said...

This is a great concept for a book but I wish it was executed better. My favorite part are the paperdoll end pages- made me think that the inclusion of actual paperdolls would have been a great addition! I also liked the selection of women and their illustrated portraits and descriptions at the end. However, I felt the writing is stilted and the illustrations overworked. It is a shame because we need a book that encourages children- boys and- girls to learn more about strong women. Boys need to recognize the accomplishments of women, too. Unfortunately, this book starts badly with, "I used to play Princess until my mom read me stories about real women" which loses any child who likes princesses and boys from more conservative crowds. The book loses the audience it needs to reach the most. 2/5

Anonymous said...

The concept of this book is great. I teach at the k-2 level and am bombarded with the princess play day after day after day. A book that encourages female students to look beyond Cinderella and recognize the accomplishments of strong women in history surely hits the right note with me. I'd love for another sentence or two to be added on each women and their accomplishments. The biographical pieces at the end of the book were great. 4/5

Lemon the Duck said...

This little girl is definitely NOT waiting around for Prince Charming! What a great idea for dress-up---inspiring women rather than meek. A wide variety of women are introduced with short bios in the back. I only wish the women's full names were within the prose as well. It seemed like it started that way, but then moved to just first names, losing the audience a bit because the reader wasn't sure who the person was without going to the back of the book.
A nice use of descriptive words and alliteration.
This book can be read all the way through or in short snippets which allow time for further reflection on each "dame".
The "paper doll" motif was really cute and a nice springboard for an art extension. It would have even been better if some paper dolls/clothing were included to get kids "into" it.
The paper doll book ends were the best illustrations; the ones within were less than optimal, including the coloring of some of the skin tones (especially on the last page). This book easily lends itself to social studies and art lessons as well as performance art.
I rate this book a 3 out of 5 for early elementary kids.
Laura Backman
Hathaway School

Lisa said...

This is a wonderful book that provides great examples of female role models. Young children will relate to the concept of dressing up. This book can be used to spark discussion of the women who are featured in the book. I will definitely share it with my young readers.

PLLoggerR said...

Every-Day Dress-Up, by Selina Alko, provides a good jumping off point for a discussion of famous women, role models, and following your dreams. The text is brief, suitable for a young child, with a brief, one paragraph biography for each woman in an "afterword." The illustrations were full of detail, which will need explanation, but they did not draw me in. A book with potential, but maybe not universal appeal.
A Picnic Basket 3.
Director, Peacham Library

Anonymous said...

I loved it! The librarian in our school will be ordering it as soon as she can. Women are shown as strong and successful on their own merit, something that needs to be emphasized today. I rate this book a 5!

M. Battista said...

This is a great book to introduce kids to many strong female figures. I agree with Ms. Backman that the full names should have been used to describe each woman. I found myself guessing and then flipping to the back to see if I was correct. Most kids aren't going to know many of the women prior to reading the book so the last names within the text would be helpful. I was also surprised to see Sonia Sotomayor as one of the ladies mentioned. Her success is relatively modern while the others are more historically based.

Picnic Rating: 3

Denair, CA

Julia Pitau said...

Every-Day Dress-Up is a charming book. The first items to catch my attention were the cut-out paper doll and her clothes because they reminded me of my days as a young girl. This book is a wonderful opportunity to expose girls to some of the women who made great contributions to our society. I expecially appreciated the fact that Selina Alko chose women across multiple cultures. I wish she would have included the women's last names in the story instead of just after the story. Also, I hope that one day she writes another book that focuses on men.

Picnic Rating 4 1/2
Denair Charter Academy

Sandra Hartman, Wedgeworth Library said...

As a grandmother of four girls inundated with peer pressure of the “you are a princess” variety, encouraging them to diva-like behavior, I loved this book. It in effect says it is more than OK to be yourself, even if you are different, and in fact, are more likely to do something worthwhile by being different, and un-princess like. As a librarian, I loved the same thing for the girls in my school, who come every day with princess blurb attire, and I especially loved the mini-biographies in the back of the book. The illustrations reminded me of old-fashioned books, which is a good thing. No glitz, glitter, or over the top illustrations underscored the message of the book that it isn’t necessary to gild the lily.

Sandra Hartman
Wedgeworth Library

Nikki M. said...

The concept for the book was wonderful. The combination of Non-Fiction and Fiction is a great way to introduce younger reads to historical figures. The fact that the author chose women from mulitple cultures makes it even better. I found the sentence structure odd, I was loooking for a cadence that wasn't there.


loonyhiker said...

I thought this was an awesome book for young children to read. Growing up, I loved paper dolls and dressing up and I believe most children still do. This book focuses on famous women that are great role models for girls. The illustrations are colorful and appealing as well as the story. In the back of the book, there are short biographies of all of the women that are mentioned. By introducing these women to young girls, it is a great way to encourage them to shoot for the stars because there are so many possibilities for them. I also think boys and girls would benefit from learning about these special historical women so I would definitely give this book

Pat Hensley
Greenville, SC

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book. I can use this book with my granddaughter as well as with my students. It is a fun way to introduce great women in history. It would be a nice way to start a biography lesson where the students read a biography and dress up for the presentation.
For my granddaughter it was a fun way to introduce her to women who made a difference. I thought the book was wonderful from the way it was written to the beautiful illistrations.

Susan Appleton said...

I absolutely LOVED this book and the wonderful female role models it sets for young girls! I love how the author took the "dress-up" theme to a whole new level to teach little girls about the wonderfully talented women in this world that they can aspire to be like! My 2-year old loved the colorful pictures! It is definitely a book I would recommend for all little (and big)girls! Definitely a 5 out of 5!

Sundial Station - Lymphoma Log said...

What a great book! Frankly, I’m tired of the little girls in our school asking for the “princess books” or the “sparkly books”.  In fact we grew so tired of answering the question and chasing books all across the library that we created a princess genre collection and separated it out. I will definitely be reading this to Kindergarten and 1st grades very soon. What a refreshing change. It’s similar in feel to Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming (a Texas Bluebonnet nominee this year) with a spunky girl and historical references. But this definitely fills the under 3rd grade void in books of this nature. I can’t wait to hand it to the right girl who’s looking for something besides “princess”.

Peaceful Reader said...

This is a wonderful alternative to the many pink princess books available today. Everyday Dress Up shares the lives of women role models for my daughter. What a great book to encourage more research as well as a way to see the long line of famous women who came before us. My daughter is ready to be Amelia Earhart next year for Halloween-thanks to this story. Five stars!

Carole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janssen said...

This was a phenomenal book and as a mother of a girl, I'm so glad to see books like this that combine my love of reading and history. What a great way for girls AND to learn about other incredible women.

I'm torn about whether or not I wish that full names, rather than first names, were used the text, rather than only in the biography index at the back.

Anonymous said...

This is my first book from The Picnic Basket and it is a great start. I think these are all excellent role models for boys and girls. I teach first grade and will use this around our annual Career Day to begin rich discussions. I rate it a 5.

Heather Hill said...

"Every-Day Dress-Up" is a great book to read before starting to talk about some of these important, historical women. Students could turn and talk about if they know which woman that is and what she did or why she was important for an informal pre-assessment. Students will love the illustrations in the book and will reach for the book many times.

I think some of the vocabulary will need to be explained and more appropriate lower level words could have been used, but in all it's a great idea for a book to introduce some important women role models to girls.

I'm glad the book also includes short biographies of the women in the book so that if students aren't already familiar with them, they have a starting point to find additional information.

I give the book a 4 out of 5.

Heather Hill
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

ReaderTeacher said...

Amazing! My daughter and I enjoyed this book. I love the idea of dress up moving to imagining real possibilities of life's opportunities.

All of the strong women demonstrated that life is there for the taking and this book shares the idea of reaching out to dream your own future.

The book has the right amount of history complimented by storytelling and illustration to enjoy the story and its creativity.

The information at the end of the book was an additional bonus. I like the short biography for each of the women. It’s just the right amount of information to create interest for readers to start exploring further.

ReaderTeacher said...

Amazing! My daughter and I enjoyed this book. I love taking the idea of dress up into imagining real possibilities of life's opportunities.

All of the strong women demonstrated that life is there for the taking and this book shares the idea of reaching out dream your own future.

The book has the right amount of history complimented by storytelling and illustration to enjoy the story and its creativity.

The information at the end of the book was an additional bonus. I like the short biography for each of the women. It’s just the right amount of information to create interest for readers to start exploring further.

Five Stars

JenniferJ said...

What an fun adorable book I just loved everything about it. Besides playing ordinary everyday princess dress up. This little girl spices up her wardrobe every day of the week! She dresses up as a different famous woman in history. For example; Amelia Earhart, the First Lady of the US, and many more that I haven't even heard of. I found that Every-Day Dress-Up is very educational and fun all at the same time. Your child not only learns the days of the week, but also learns about history of different famous women and on how to be creative in learning; not to mention the illusturations are fun and unique. I highly recommend this book....