Wednesday, 31 May 2017

'Zoe and Beans: Look At Me!' by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

Last week when I took Toddler to the library he started happily pulling books out of the boxes, and one of the books was very familiar. I'd borrowed it when Girl Child was a toddler and really liked it, so I thought I'd introduce Toddler to it.

I've mentioned this book before in passing, both on this blog and in my guest post for Let Them Be Small, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about why I love it so much.

Firstly, it features a boy-girl friendship. Admittedly this seems more common in picture books than in books aimed at older kids, but still it's refreshing to see a book which represents both genders and shows them engaged in the same activity. The story is all about Zoe and her friend Oscar dressing up as different things, and it's all fairly non-gendered. Zoe doesn't dress up as a princess or similar 'girly' character, and they both dress up as pirates and 'action'-style characters.

I also love the inventiveness of their dressing up. In fact, I used it as an example for Girl Child that she doesn't have to have an exact costume to dress up as something - a pan can be a helmet, a rubber duck can be a parrot. In this 'buy buy buy' culture where so many kids have an array of ready-made costumes, it's endearing to see a story about kids using their imagination and ingenuity.

I absolutely love the ending. Having exhausted their options, even using the dressing up box itself as a costume, they decide to dress as each other. This shouldn't be a bold move, but it is. There is still a stigma around boys dressing up as girls in particular, so seeing the kids happily playing as each other feels like a statement. And what an awesome statement to make - kids can dress how they want and be who they want!

And what does Toddler make of it? It's not quite as 'active' as some of the stories he's used to, but he still really enjoys looking at the pictures, and the onomatopoeic parts of the text really appeal to him. I might read it to him again when he's old enough to understand what's going on - but then he sees his sister dressing up loads so perhaps he understands more than I'm giving him credit for!

I really love the Zoe and Beans series, especially how the illustrations combine Mick Inkpen's familiar style with Chloe's quirkiness, and the playful nature of the stories. I'm looking forward to re-reading them as Toddler grows up.

I'm linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me


  1. Love Zoe and Beans books, we borrow them a lot from the library! Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

  2. Oh I love the sound of this book, what a perfect example for little ones. My son is always dressing get up as things but uses whatever clothes/items he has, love his imagination! #readwithme

    1. That's great! I much prefer using imagination to having to buy ready-made costumes! #readwithme