By Nancy King
Don’t you find that there are so many children’s books and yet so few that are really, remarkably, read-them-again-and-again good?
Well, get your hands on a copy of The One and Only Marigold by Florence Parry Heide. It’s actually four short stories in one, centered on the irresistible–and incorrigible–Marigold, whose last hobby was inventing ugly faces. I adore her because she’s the anti-heroine, in the grand tradition of Eloise and Olivia. The first thing we learn about her is that she doesn’t agree with her mother or her father or her second-best friend, Maxine. But she agrees with herself, “and that was the important thing.” She’s so sassy and sure of herself that it’s hard to argue. We also learn that her best friend is an old purple coat that she wears inside, outside, in the shower, and to bed. When her mother insists she needs a new coat, Marigold is aghast and refuses to surrender the old one (“I’m a very loyal person,” she insists). And when Maxine gets miffed because she’s second on Marigold’s list of friends (after the beloved old coat), Marigold doesn’t apologize or make nice. Instead, she makes a new list: Ways to bug Maxine.
She may not always be agreeable or obedient, but for my money, Marigold is a wonderful role model for young girls because she’s clever, confident, complicated, and honest. And that’s the important thing.
The One and Only Marigold by Florence Parry Heide
$16.99 Random House