True confession: I am a mama of boys. Hence, very few pink, “girly”, sparkly books make it home in our library bag. But I could not leave I Had a Favorite Dress on the library shelf. The little girl in me was totally wooed by the self assured girl in the the spring blossom, salmon pink dress on the cover; the candy wrapper pink end pages; and the fabulous multi-media illustrations by Julia Denos.
The main character in I Had a Favorite Dress is a spunky, active girl. She outgrows her “favoritest dress ever” and her creative Mama turns her dress into a series of new, ever shrinking articles of clothing and accessories. However, when her puppy chews Mama’s last creation into the “tiniest scraps of fabric” she’s ever seen, she comes up with her own creative solution to wear her “favoritest dress every day of every season of every year”.
I love how uplifting this book is. The main character is never pouty, but always ready for a new solution. My son loved following the transformation of the dress and the creativity that oozes out of this book captured his imagination. The internal rhyme, colorful illustrations and “Snip,Snip, Sew, Sew” chorus throughout makes this a happy, read- aloud book.
I Had a Favorite Dress has a tight foundational structure. Ashburn uses days of the week as well as seasons to lead the reader through the story.
It is also a beautiful example of the importance of “show, don’t tell”. The main character’s solution to her problem is never put into words. Boni Ashburn allowed her illustrator to tell the high point of the story in pictures. And Julia Denos does this masterfully with a collage of a collage. Individually the text and the illustrations carry the same message of creativity. Combined, they make each page call out “Go make something!”