The Little Girl Who Didn't Want To Grow Up
Region: The Mediterranean, Italy
Author: Rendition and retelling by Veronique Tadjo
Illustrator: Catherine Groenewald
Genre: Fairytales; based on the story by an Italian Gianni Rodari
Descriptors: girls; child-parent relationships; childhood trauma; fable; family; fantasy; South Africa; violence; war
Age: 5-7 years old
The Little Girl Who Didn’t Want to Grow Up is a retelling of an Italian fable. Set in South Africa, a young girl named Ayanda is heartbroken when her father leaves to fight in the war but does not return when the war is over. She decides that she never wants to grow up because adults are cruel and go to war. While everyone else around her grows, she stays small until her mother and grandmother get sick. Ayanda begins to let herself grow little by little to help look after her family. One day, a group of criminals attacks her village and she has to grow as big as a baobab tree to save the day. The artwork by Catherine Groenewald is just as magical as the story. The big and bold illustrations created by delicate linework and colorful watercolor strokes fill the entire page. Groenewald’s use of detail with patterns and color creates a great sense of texture in the environment, from the vibrant chicken feathers to the intricate designs of the clothing worn by the characters. This heart-warming tale is perfect for children five to seven years old. It has plenty of universal appeal and can also be used as a starting point to discuss African culture, such as the importance of the baobab tree.
More About This Book
Notes: Based on Gianni Rodari’s short story “Tinarina, the Runt, Who Wouldn’t Grow” from the collection Tales to Change the World (2008).
Content warning: war, parent death, and guns. In this book, there is some potentially triggering content for readers. At the beginning of the story, Ayanda’s father goes off to fight in the war but does not return home. It is heavily implied that he died in combat. Furthermore, near the end of the story, a couple of criminals attack Ayanda’s village and are seen pointing guns at people.
Reviewed by Leah Byrnes