Monday, June 9, 2014

Mary's Penny by Tanya Landman illustrated by Richard Holland

When a new book is cataloged in our library we sometimes need to check other titles by the same author.  Last week we were looking for our books by Tanya Landman.  We had two others and one was Mary's Penny. It looked intriguing and the subject of stereotypes always interests me.

This is a terrific book which reads almost like a folktale.  There is a charming repeated refrain "in the golden, olden days".

A farmer has three grown up children - two boys and a girl. The farmer wants to decide who should run his farm.  "Franz or Hans? Hans or Franz? All day long the names went round and round in his head.  It didn't occur to him to think of Mary."  But he should have considered Mary because she has a special secret something - she has brains.

Each boy is given a penny and they must use their penny to buy something "that will fill the whole house". Franz buys a cart load of straw but it does not quite fill the whole house.  Hans buys feathers but they don't quite reach the ceiling.  Finally Mary boldly asks for her penny so she can try to win the challenge.  The farmer reluctantly gives Mary his last penny.  Mary uses her Penny very wisely ( as we all knew she would) but the things she buys might surprise you.  Mary fills the house and the farmer agrees Mary should run the farm.

I have been talking with our Grade 5 students about women's suffrage.  One of the aspects of this topic that students find confusing is why politicians blocked women from voting.  Mary's Penny will be the perfect addition to our discussion about equal rights.  You might also enjoy Ever Clever Eva.

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