Thursday, November 20, 2014

30 Days of Diverse Picture Books - Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

It's Day 20 of our 30 Days of Diverse Picture Books. The National Book Awards were presented last night, and I was thrilled to see Jacqueline Woodson take home the honor for her spectacular memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. It is seriously magnificent, people - review coming when Picture Book Month is at an end.

Tonight's pick is one that often ends up on best-of lists, and for good reason - Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges, like Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, honors a connection to the past and all those who've paved the way for future generations. Bridges tells the story of her grandmother, Ruby, a little girl growing up in China during a time when education was the province of boys, not girls. Ruby loves the color red, and she loves to learn, even putting in extra hours doing her domestic tasks just so she doesn't have to give up her studies when all the other girls do. And her grandfather sees Ruby's dedication and rewards it in a way that's most unusual for girls of that time period.

Ruby's Wish shines with the pride and love a granddaughter has for her grandmother, a message that young readers will no doubt find inspiring. Sophie Blackall rendered the exquisite watercolors for the book, and her art captures the time and place beautifully, as well as providing a gentle backdrop for the relationship between grandfather and granddaughter. (That cover - just amazing, no?) Modern readers may be surprised to learn of the restrictions on education - it's a great way to talk about how those limits continue in many countries, and discuss what we as global citizens can do to help broaden education worldwide.

Ruby's Wish is a stand-out addition to any home or classroom library. Read it for inspiration and history, in equal measures.

Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges, published by Chronicle Books

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