Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Not Fair! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

It's Not Fair! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Rating: 5 stars

I was worried about checking out this book.  I really didn't want to hear, "IT'S NOT FAIR!" ten times a day for the next, um, 18 years.  Because with three kids, there will be a whole lot of unfairness every hour of every day of every month of every year.  It's practically the only thing I can guarantee my kids!

But I'm such a fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and I do so love Tom Lichtenheld (and the other book on which they teamed up, Yes Day, is so great...), I had to give this book a chance.

I'm so glad I did.

Literally, this book is full of simple examples through grand illustrations of what's not fair in a child's world.  My cookie half is smaller.  The crowd clapped louder for someone else.  I'm sick for my own birthday party.  Surely your kids can think of a million other examples of times when it's just not fair--and the solution is not to fix it to make it fair, but to live with that unfairness.  To accept it and move on.

I was reminded of this book on our drive down to the beach yesterday.  I finished Caddie Woodlawn (okay, the fact that I could read while also supervising/entertaining/handing out snacks to three kids five and under makes me pat myself on the back a few times) and teared up towards the end.  Caddie's wise father, who has already had the foresight to "let her run wild with the boys," gives her some very sage words.  Caddie's mother has just punished Caddie and only Caddie for a crime her two brothers also committed.  But her mother singled out Caddie, and she was still stinging from the whip of the switch and of her mother's choice.  Here's what he says:
It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys.  It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful.  What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things their rough way!  A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness.  I'ts a big task, too, Caddie--harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers.  It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.  They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through wilderness.  A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, just as important as a man's.  But no man could ever do it so well.  I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners whom folks sometimes call a lady.  No, that is not what I want for you, my little girl.  I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind.
Even as I read this, at 36, I squirm a little at the unfairness of it.  But I wouldn't want it any other way.  I sure don't feel the need to clue in Lorelei on some of the future "unfairnesses" of being a girl, but it's good for me to be aware of our expectations of her.  I will still let her run as wild as she wants to for a long, long time.  Maybe because I'd like to run wild for a bit longer, too!

It's Not Fair is a good book--a little dangerous one because of that "It's not fair!" catchphrase!--but a good introduction to a big concept that'll surround us and our kids every day.

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