There Was a Little Girl, She Had a Little Curl
By Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Elliot Kreloff
Blue Apple Books, $15.95
36 pp., ISBN 978-1593541613
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
Opening with the familiar nursery rhyme about the little girl with the mid-forehead curl, "When she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid," children's picture book veteran Harriet Ziefert introduces young Isabel in a story that many many parents out there (and their children) will probably be able to relate to.
When she wakes up one morning, Isabel decides she will do her best to be very good that day. And she is. She gets her own breakfast, goes shopping for shoes with her mother and even agrees to Mom's choice of sneakers -- everything's going well for Isabel until she gets distracted by her mother's bedroom vanity table when looking for her pets.
It all started with a little make up here, a little nail polish there. Soon Isabel is trying to fix her hair, but the knots and tangles and curls keep getting in the way. So naturally, Isabel snips at the offending tresses with the scissors. When her mother sees what she's done, Isabel is suddenly devastated -- she thinks she looks horrible and doesn't want her daddy to see her looking that way.
Thankfully, Mom's the resourceful type and a quick trip to the hair salon for a cleaned-up look and all is right with Isabel's world again. She even gets complemented on her new 'do by her father, who is never the wiser about the afternoon's adventure.
Despite being charmed by the lively extrapolation of the traditional rhyme, There Was a Little Girl falls a bit flat in the storytelling. Up until the point that Isabel's mom saves the day, the book stays true to the whimsical nature of the nursery rhyme; then the book is firmly rooted back in reality. Mom's tone is reassuring and sensible: "I can't make your hair look any better, but if you stop crying, we can go to the beauty shop and see if someone there can repair the damage." It's the kind of calm response that both parents and kids hope would come out if (or more likely when) faced with the same situation.
Elliot Kreloff's illustrations are perfect for the book. Child-like crayon-inspired artwork conveys the youth and innocence of little Isabel. The orange crayon-curl is distinctive and really plays up the connection between an unintentional DIY haircut and the rhyme. Pastel colors, photo-textured backgrounds, and simple, uncluttered pages are light and airy and have strong visual appeal, especially those pages in which Kreloff depicts Isabel applying cosmetics and nail polish.
Colorful and playful, There Was a Little Girl, She Had a Little Curl is a good choice for preschoolers and early elementary school-aged children. If young readers have already had a run-in with the scissors, commiserating with Isabel will probably make them feel good, reassured that they're not the only kid who's done it; if not, well… you might want to hide the scissors…
The IP Bookshelf
The Story of Alicia and Mary
The IP Bookshelf
The IP Bookshelf
All original content © 2002 - 2013 Imperfect Parent®. Imperfect Parent and Mominatrix are registered trademarks.
The views, opinions and information expressed in articles and blog posts published on imperfectparent.com and all subdomains are those of the authors alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Imperfect Parent or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of any entity of, or affiliated with, Imperfect Parent. The Imperfect Parent is designed for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical, health, legal, or financial advice from a professional.
Reproduction of material from any of Imperfect Parent's pages without written permission is strictly prohibited.