Amazing Grace by Mary HoffmanGrace was a girl who loved stories.
From this simple sentence Mary Hoffman goes on to write an inspiring and positive picture book for young children. It is full of optimism; a book with a message. And the message is, to follow your dreams. If you stay true to yourself, you can be whatever you want to be, regardless of what other people say.
Because Grace is a little girl who loves to imagine things, she lives her stories. She loves to to act them out, constantly adopting the roles she reads about. We see her pretending to be Joan of Arc, Anasi the spiderman, Mowgli, Hannibal with his elephants ... and many more wonderful storybook characters. She revels in her fantasies.
One day at school her teacher tells the class that they will be performing a play about Peter Pan. This idea is so exciting for Grace, and really fires up her imagination. Immediately Grace becomes Peter in her mind. She could be Peter ... she is Peter! But the other children scoff. However can she be Peter? She looks nothing like him. That doesnt deter Grace. She didnt look like Joan of Arc or Hiawatha either. What has that got to do with it?
Grace becomes very dispirited by their attitudes, and at home tells her mother and Nana what the others had said. Her mother becomes angry, but her Nana is more philosophical, insisting,
You can be anything you want Grace, if you put your mind to it.
Nana has a plan. She takes Grace to see a new ballet of Romeo and Juliet. Graces eyes almost pop out of her head. The starring role is taken by a black ballerina! Her Nana tells her that this is Rosalie, the granddaughter of a good friend from back home in Trinidad.
After the performance Grace is inspired. She becomes Juliet in her mind and imagination. I can be anything I want, she thought. I can even be Peter Pan.
Of course at the auditions Grace gives a magnificent performance. She is so confident that she feels as if she can fly! Encouraged and empowered by what she has heard and seen, she simply excels, stunning everyone. There is no question about it; they have to vote for her.
So Grace wins the role of her dreams. And when the day of the performance comes, Grace is a real star, making a truly amazing Peter Pan.
The story ends with Nanas wise words, If Grace put her mind to it, she can do anything she want.
Amazing Grace was written by Mary Hoffman in 1991, and was so popular that it sparked off an entire series. Grace features in all of them, and in this one we first met the little girl whose strength of character, positive attitude and natural talent for drama carry her through to achieve great things. It also contains a great message about a supportive family, and how Grace herself is encouraged to share her talents with others, for their enjoyment. It demonstrates to little children how important is to respect the individual, and also the principle of social justice, regardless of gender, race or culture. And it does this in an imaginative way; we are carried along with Graces fantasies.
The illustrations in this picture book are stunning. The artist Carol Birch has produced beautiful and realistically detailed watercolours. They are very expressive, authentic and true to life. The glimpsed spontaneous moments we have of these characters are full of life and emotion. Carol Birchs work on Amazing Grace was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1992.
The author, Mary Hoffman has written over 70 books for children, and Amazing Grace was selected for the 1992 Childrens Books of the Year. Her prose is always simple, direct, lively, informative and sensitive. Anyone reading this book can empathise with the characters; the message transcends class, identity, gender or race.
It is simply an outstanding picture book.
25 years of Amazing Grace
Thank you! But when her class learns that they will be doing Peter Pan, the other kids tell Grace she can't have the lead: Peter's neither black nor a girl. Fortunately, Nana and Ma have contagious confidence in Grace's ability, and at the tryouts the class also agrees that Grace is best. It's easy to catch the wholesomely assertive spirit here--as Binch does, in this excellent debut, with her detailed, realistic watercolors; vibrant Grace almost springs from the page. Picture book. There was a problem adding your email address.
Grace decided she wanted to be the main character—Peter Pan. She is told by her classmates that she could not play Peter Pan because she is black and a girl. With the support of her grandmother and her mother Grace realizes that she can be anything she wanted to be. Grace auditions and is awarded the role of Peter Pan. It is possible for Grace, an African American girl to believe that she can be anything that she wants to be, with hard work. How can we be equal if God made us all different? How do we see this at work in our congregation?
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Basically, I started from the title, which is how books often come to me. Not always; sometimes the title is the very last thing and really hard to come up with. But I was lucky with Amazing Grace. It is the name of a very well-known American hymn and I was thinking about what sort of book you could write with that title if the main character were actually called Grace. What would make her amazing? I hoped by the time I was writing Amazing Grace, that would be less true.
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