The book, Celebrating Me by Colleen Wint: If you read my blog, you will know that I talk about our stories celebrating our children, bringing to our children a celebration of their lives, validating our way of life. Well this post is about another type of celebration, the celebration of what happens as girls begin the changes that go towards becoming women. This is a story of four friends in primary school, and one has her first period, which throws them into a spin. How they find out, what they do about it, is all part of the story. An older sister plays her part by explaining (and there are illustrations to show this) what happens inside a girl’s body and why. I must commend this writer, Colleen Wint, for thinking to do this story about a very sensitive subject. I remember Judy Blume’s “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” the first book, to my knowledge, to mention periods in literature for children.
Isn’t it interesting that for something that will be such a significant part of a woman’s life, this topic is seldom, if ever, touched on in literature. Well, of course, that’s because it’s a very private thing, and information is passed down privately from one woman to another. But what if no one tells the young girl, or is astute or knowledgeable enough to tell the truth, and not a mixture of truth and myth? Many of us adults may have forgotten the fright, the worry, and all the things you wanted to do with which a period interfered, like being on summer holidays by the sea, with all the other children swimming except you. So I commend the author for her empathy for our young girls, for her remembering. I commend her for her wisdom in realizing that such a book could be written in story form, with endearing young heroines to share their adventure of life with our readers. Societies can be quite conservative, and ours is no exception. However, as a society, we are beginning to have the essential conversations about our children, especially our girls, in the media, in our various agencies and organizations. Consequently, perhaps this is an ideal time for this book to come out. It can then be a part of the conversation. Naturally, we would expect that parents/guardians would read the book before giving it to their girls ( just as my mother read the book she gave me, and I read the book I gave my girls), and be mindful that their children may have questions and be ready to answer them.
Celebrating Me has delightful illustrations by Rachel Wade Moss, which capture the joy (and concern) of little girls on the brink of being big girls.
Most of all, I like that this book is about us. We too can have books about important female development. We don’t have to read it in a foreign book. We are important enough to learn about celebrating ourselves as girls and women in our own books. A seemingly subtle but very significant difference. They are our lives, after all.
I was unable to attend the launch, but attended a ‘meet and talk’ with the author event at Bookophilia on May 16. The audience was essentially made up of girls (and a few boys) with mothers/parents. Ms. Wint did a very interesting activity with the children, which highlighted the importance of accurate communication. She told the young people present that her father, Arthur Wint, was the first Jamaican runner to get a gold medal at the Olympics. I loved that! What a legacy! I so believe that our children should know our ‘near’ history, and know that we have a long history of achievement. The young audience enjoyed the interactive participation. Note to those of us and self, whose launches focus on the gatekeepers mainly. Maybe meet and greet is also a good idea. I note also, that Ms. Wint will be at Bookophilia again this Thursday, June 11.
Photo of Colleen Wint and me at Bookophilia