The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin

Title: The Rough-Face Girl

Author: Rafe Martin

Illustrator: David Shannon

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Published Date: 1992

This is a Native American retelling of the classic Cinderella story. All the young women of the village wanted to marry the “invisible man”. Not only did he have the nicest of things, but was thought to be very handsome. To be able to marry the Invisible Man, the woman must be able to see him. The Rough-Face Girl had two older sisters. They thought so much of themselves that they made the Rough-Face girl tend to the fire night and day. This made the girl have singed hair, rough skin and worn out clothing. The sisters decide that they want to marry the Invisible Man. They ask their father for new clothes. He gives them what they want to make them beautiful for the Invisible Man. When they get to the wigwam of the man, his sister stops them. They must prove that they can see the Invisible Man. They do not pass the test. Later, the Rough-Face Girl decides that it is time for her to ask to marry the Invisible Man. She sees him everywhere. In the sky, in the water and in all everyday things. She asks her father for new clothes, but he has given everything to her sisters. She makes new clothes and transforms used clothing into new. She doesn’t look beautiful at all, but is confident. She can see the man. The sister takes one look at her and laughs. The Rough-Face girl tells the sister that she can see him, in the clouds, in the air, in the water, and everywhere. She passes the test. And see marries the Invisible Man.

I love how this story takes the Disney version of Cinderella and shoves it out of the way. The Invisible man or “Prince” is not a prince. He does not have riches and such. He is looking for someone that can see him for himself and not for what he supposedly has. And the Rough-Face Girl is not chosen because she is beautiful on the outside, but for the beauty in her heart. It is a refreshing story.

The illustrations are beautiful. Every Native story that I’ve read have a mystical feel to them. The artist has taken this concept and run with it. Just from the illustrations you can see into the souls of the Rough-Face Girl and her sisters.

Happy Reading!


Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester

Title: Sam and the Tigers

Author: Julius Lester

Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Published Date: 1996

In a place call Sam-sam-sa-mara, where everyone is named Sam, there is a young boy who wants to dress himself. His parents let him pick out his own clothes. In this place all animals and people talk and do business together. The next day he meets up with 5 Tigers. All wanting to eat him, but instead he gives each a piece of clothing. Sam finds them fighting over who looks the best. While they fight, he takes his clothes back! Already fighting, they become even angrier. They run so fast that they turn into butter! Sam takes the butter and asks his mom to make pancakes. There are so many pancakes that all the neighbors come over. They all have tons of pancakes, Sam eats 169!

From reading the details of where the story comes from, this is a retelling of Little Black Samba. This was the first story to feature a black character. The fantastical story was loved by many white people, because it made the young black boy look weaker. Lester and Pinkney have taken this story and revamped it to make it what it should have been; a story glorifying the imagination and a proud young black boy that doesn’t have any demeaning qualities.

Happy Reading!


Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Pinkney

Title: Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down

Author: Andrea Pinkney

Illustrator: Brian Pinkney

Publisher: Little, Brown & Co

Published Date: 2010


Sit-In chronicles part of the Civil Rights movement that started in the late 1950s. Four friends that went to a local college went to an only white restaurant and sat at the bar until they were served. This movement soon caught on and black and white students around the country were protesting segregation through sit-ins. Because they were a peaceful group, most law officers didn’t do anything to the protesters. As time went on, more people became enraged with these protests and started arresting the peaceful protestors In the end, the sit-ins became very popular and caught the eye of President Kennedy. Soon segregation was a thing of the past.

I like how easy this book was to read. Yes, it is for children, but it put what happened in simple terms. There is no spin. Just the facts. This lets children and parents make up their own opinions about what happened. The illustrations make the story even better. I like how most of the characters don’t have very distinct features. They could have been your neighbor or friend. It makes you think what if that happened today? Would you stand up for your friend, neighbor, family?

Happy Reading!


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