I sort of like parts of this book, and yet I’m troubled by it. A tiny girl with older, physically much larger brothers ends up doing all the housework, because the boys simply overpower her in the fights to decide who does the chores. Really? Your dad agrees with this system? You fight to decide who does the laundry? This is fair? Obviously not.
The tiny girl’s response is to take up boxing, so that she can pound her brothers into submission and make them do the chores. She builds herself up by looking in the mirror and reciting the names of strong women – Rosa Parks, Nellie Bly, Sally Ride, Nina Simone.
In the end, she wins a boxing match, and her victory changes things. She goes back to playing the piano and never puts on her boxing gloves again. “Fists should be opened and fingers should fly,” she says.
Hmmm. There is a strange combination of girl power and muscle power here. I’m sure it’s meant to be whimsical, but overcoming a clearly biased and unfair system (very might makes right) brings me less joy when it’s a parent who’s set the system up to begin with – a single dad who doesn’t just allow this behavior over the chores, but also calls her a nickname she hates. Wow. I know. I’m probably way too harsh, and it’s on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list. Read it yourself and see what you think.
Feather by Rémi Courgeon