Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brave Margaret

Brave Margaret (An Irish Adventure)
Written by Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Children’s Picture Book): 1-5
Stars: 4 (out of 5)

Summary: Margaret is bored with her country life and is thrilled when she gets to go off with the King of the East to see the world. A sea serpent ultimately leads to the separation of the King and Margaret, which results in Margaret residing with an old woman until the King finally arrives. The old woman has a sword on her wall that must be used to slay a giant, and can only be used by the man whose finger the sword’s ring fits. The old woman has cast a spell upon Margaret so that she cannot leave until the right man clays the giant. Margaret’s finger is the one that fits the ring, and thus, she goes on to slay the giant and live happily ever after with the King.

What I found most interesting about this story was the complex story line. Often, children’s books have deluded plots and characters. This plot was very complex and contained several separate components. What I like though, is that I believe an elementary aged child could follow the story line and would be captivated by the story. When I was first reading it, I considered putting it back on the shelf, for I felt that with all of the text, the story would drag on and on and I would not enjoy it. What happened though, is that I was completely drawn into the story and could not wait to finish it to find out what happens to Margaret and the King. Thus, the complex story line was enough to keep me turning the page and yearning for more. While none of the main characters were particularly interesting, the plot definitely was. One of my favorite subtle components was that the old woman kept waiting for a man to arrive, fit his finger in the ring, and slay the giant with the sword. What ended up happening though is that the ring fit on Margaret, a woman’s, finger, and a woman was the one to ultimately slay the giant. This subtle gender stereotype fits so perfectly into the story, yet could be a great jumping point into discussing stereotypes in our society.

That being said, this book could be used in my classroom in a number of ways. Like I mentioned, it could be used to explore gender stereotypes, which is something that I would do in the upper elementary grades. More likely though, I would use it in a fairy tale unit, for it is one that is rarely heard (at least I had never heard of it). Even more simplistically, it would be a great book to read aloud to the class on a rainy afternoon. I think that it would be a perfect book to read to second graders, with the right mix of interest, length, and depth. 

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