A restless young woman leaves home and learns priceless life lessons in Lee DeNoya’s stunning picture book The Girl Who Wrote Her Own Fairytale.
In an unspecified pre-automobile era, a grandmother sits down to read a story to her granddaughter, the “I-am-not-sleepy little girl.” This framing device establishes the story-within-the-story, told in clever rhyming verse, that dominates the book: the tale of a young woman who, dissatisfied with her life, seeks inspiration beyond the walls of her hometown. “‘There’s a big world out there with so much more than here,/ and I’m missing it!’ they’d hear her say. “‘I have all this energy bound up inside/ but I’m rooted here day after day.’”
Embarking on a journey, the young woman quickly meets an old woman, who advises her that the idea of home is not to be treated lightly. The old woman gives her a compass, and the girl sets off, meeting a painter, a musician, and an explorer, who teach her about art and music, and that the journey is as important as the destination. Later, she again encounters the old woman, who uses the example of ospreys to discuss the qualities of a strong marriage.
When the young woman meets a young man, her compass, combined with his watch, indicates that they complement each other perfectly. The result is a happy, satisfying, and intriguing conclusion to the framing device and the book.
The book’s design is clean and elegant, with each two-page spread featuring a page of text opposite a full color image. The art is exquisite: detailed color paintings, presented on the book’s large faux-yellowed pages. The rhyming, too, is impeccable as it unspools the engaging story.
Although some of the vocabulary is on a young adult level, middle-school aged children should understand and enjoy the book nonetheless, and its message will inspire readers of any age. In sum, The Girl Who Wrote Her Own Fairytale is a beautiful, memorable book in every way.