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Arts and Culture

The Children's Bookshelf: Ambitious Girl

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This is the Children’s Bookshelf and I’m Sue Ann Martin.

Ambitious Girl written by Meena Harris and illustrated by Marissa Valdez is a lively picture book with a strong and determined voice. It is an effective example of how the ability to speak up and speak out can make all of the difference.

As the story begins a young girl witnesses a strong woman who is giving a speech being called too persistent, too loud, too proud, too assertive, too confident and too ambitious. The young girl eventually understands that such labelling can cause an individual to give up their determination to grow, create and activate ideas in the real world. After a powerful suggestion from the speechmaker to never allow anyone to define her the young girl decides to go joyfully forth with her own decision to be persistent, loud, proud, assertive, confident and ambitious!

As the story unfolds these words begin to lose the negative connotations that they once had and actually become badges of courage.

The delightful illustrations of the young girl show her decked out in a yellow sweatshirt (with in one instance the word “ambitious” gracing the front), running pants and a pair of tennis shoes that allows her to go, go, go toward her dreams. The artist perfectly pictures her with a big, beautiful and genuine smile.

Ambitious Girl written by Meena Harris and illustrated by Marissa Valdez delivers a simple but important message in an engaging style for all girls (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’ Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the activity questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Ambitious Girl

Have you ever had someone try to discourage you from being competitive or from using your voice to get your ideas forward or somehow trying to make you feel lesser as a person? I hope not. Many, unfortunately, have. Draw a picture of how you felt when you were discouraged by another person’s comments about your ideas, energy and ability to make your ideas known. Think back. Concentrate on your facial expression and body language. Use any materials from pencil, pen and ink and watercolor to a cut and paste collage method---- or whatever your imagination decides!

Seek out other strong women found in the book’s illustrations. Be sure to look in the scenes, the clouds and the historical illustrations. Some strong women are easily identifiable and others are not. Older students might enjoy doing some online research about a strong woman that they discover amidst the book’s illustrations.

Do you have a particular person in your life who always encourages you to follow your dreams? If so, make or write them a thank you note. And be sure they receive it.