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Free to Be... You and Me: 05/15/09

I'm as old as Free to Be... You and Me by Marlo Thomas (and friends). The book, record and TV special were some of the inescapable things in my childhood (no matter how hard I tried!) and now the book is back and it landed (uninvited) on my doorstep for review.

As Ms. Thomas explains in the beginning of the book she was inspired to create Free to Be... You and Me when her niece complained about all the books having princesses who need to be rescued. My response would have been: you're reading the wrong the books! What about Alice, Ozma, Dorothy, Anne, Trixie, Nancy, Madeline, Wendy and Mary to name just a few of the many literary heroines from my youth who didn't need princes or rescuing.

Free to Be... You and Me isn't though just trying to be a book to empower young women, it also tries to give boys permission to like things considered "girlie" (dolls and pink and showing emotions). As I pointed out in The Boy Who Wanted to be a Fish by Le Grand, pink for girls is a relatively new thing. A better way of conveying a message (whatever it is) is to show not tell. For boys who like pink, I recommend Pinkalicious and Purplicious for the younger brother in the book who is almost as nuts about pink as his big sister.

The big message of this book is basically this: don't be afraid to do your own thing. Unfortunately the book comes with the conceit that children don't have the will power to think for themselves or push boundaries. That's not been the case with most of the children I've met through my own two.

This reissue comes with sheet music and a CD. The original cartoons are on YouTube if you're inclined to watch them.

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