June 23, 2015

Tilt Your Head, Rosie the Red

by Rosemary McCarney
Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart
Second Story Press
24 pp.
Ages 4-7
April, 2015

Rosemary McCarney whose Every Day is Malala Day (Second Story Press, 2014) was just awarded the 2015 Golden Oak readers' choice award of the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading has found her voice in bringing social justice issues to young readers.  In Tilt Your Head, Rosie the Red, the first in a series called A Rosie the Red Book, Rosemary McCarney introduces our heroine of compassion as she attempts to help a friend.

Rosie who likes to wear a red cape, because “It just feels right”(pg. 4) she tells her brother, is chagrined to see a classmate Fadimata bullied at school because she wears a headscarf.  As in most bullying situations, there are a few mean and hateful children but there are also those who are present but fearful and unable to act to help the young girl in the hijab.  But Rosie the Red is determined to find a solution, as she follows her protocol to help her think: Tilt your head, Rosie the Red. (pg. 9)

Not only does Rosie get Fadimata to help fashion a headscarf for her out of the red cape, she leads the way for other girls to support Fadimata in similar ways.  With the message that, “If we remember to look at things in new ways, everything is possible” (pg. 22), diversity in the school yard becomes acceptable as it should be.

Rosemary McCarney gets the right and light tone for her books, ensuring that she never preaches but always enlightens.  And the illustrations by Yvonne Cathcart, who has illustrated some favourites by Rachna Gilmore, Jo-Ellen Bogart and Shenaaz Nanji, are bright and bold and resonant with movement, adding to the story’s surge to justice and resolution.

I think this Rosie the Red series will be a welcome one for teachers and schools who are always looking for books to support important themes of diversity and social justice.  It continues to be evident that, with another new series, I’m a Great Little Kid, also being launched this spring, Second Story Press has strengthened its position as a Canadian publisher of worthwhile reads for young people.

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