14 Jun / I Love My Purse by Belle DeMont, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
One morning, Charlies pulls out the bright red purse from his grandmother and decides today is the day he’s going to wear it out of his room and into the world. But before he’s even down the stairs, his father has already warned Charlie that “Boys wear sneakers and baseball caps, not bright red purses!” Charlie’s simple and firm reply – “But I love my purse!” – makes his father remember how much he loves his Hawaiian shirts, far more than the shirt and tie he’s fumbling with this morning.
Charlie will stick to that refrain – “But I love my purse!” – throughout the day, making each of his naysayers think twice about what they love: Charlotte insists that “[b]oys carry worms … and toads,” not purses, but then considers how she’d rather have “a difference face every day” with face paint; Sam insists on “skateboards and … comic books” but then confesses that he’d rather “eat actual food for lunch” he could cook himself rather than settling for cafeteria’s unappetizing creations. Only the crossing guard cheers Charlie’s chosen accessory, mentioning his own love of “sparkly shoes.”
The next morning brings multiple revelations: while Charlie’s still toting his purse, his father is tie-less, Charlotte’s got traces of “practicing my snow queen” all over her face, Sam’s brought his homemade spaghetti for lunch. And then it’s suddenly transformation Friday: Charlies and his purse are still attached, but on this day, his father’s sporting his favorite Hawaiian chemise, Charlotte’s a “(sort of) … tiger,” Sam’s got risotto going in the cafeteria, and the crossing guard has a surprise of his own …
Canadian author Belle DeMont’s debut is a rollicking reminder that one person’s independently exuberant joy inspires contagious happiness in others, as well. DeMont finds an ideal collaborator with German illustrator Sonya Wimmer who infuses the text with never-still energy presented in saturated full color: Charlies skips the stairs to slide down the banister, his shrinking form bounding towards school is visible from his father’s bathroom window, his prized red purse becomes larger than life with magical treasures, his shoelaces can’t quite keep up, his kitty dances on the table as his father flips almost-weekend pancakes, and then there’s his final-page strut … which needs no words at all.
In a world cluttered with restrictive, unnecessary shoulds, musts, have-tos, here’s an antidotal example of should, must, have-to – buy, borrow, acquire … and utterly enjoy.