Childrens books come and go, but Brave Irene by William Steig is here to stay. Steig, author of the original Shrek! and the Caldecott Award-winner for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, has created a beauty of a story.
Brave Irene tells of a fearless heroine, Irene, and what she endures to help her mother. Mrs. Bobbin isn’t feeling well. But she must finish the ball gown she is creating for the duchess. When she is too ill to deliver the dress in time for the ball, Irene volunteers to take on the task. This spirited little girl faces many hardships along the way—including weather so dreadful no one should be out in it. This is a heartwarming tale of courage and empathy. Readers of every age will get something from it. The very young will ooh and ahh as Irene faces each of her new hurdles. Older elementary readers will feel for both the mother and Irene.
This book enlightens readers as to how children can help their parents. Irene is remarkably responsible and realizes that her mother needs help. That’s all it takes as Irene takes control of the situation, getting her mother tucked in bed and fixing her warm tea, as she struggles through a snowstorm to deliver the beautiful ball gown her mother has fashioned.
The story is a heartwarming one for young readers and young listeners as they follow Irene’s footsteps helping her mother when she needs her. Steig has a knack for using unusual words that children love to hear and long to remember. The words and descriptions can add fascination for inventive meanings. Children are known to gasp and cheer for Irene and she makes her way in a determined fashion to her destination.
Brave Irene is classic Steig. He uses the English language in such an eloquent way that readers feel they are being entertained, and only afterwards realize they’ve learned an important lesson. The words and pictures flow from page to page without hesitation.
Many adult readers will remember this classic from their childhood and enjoy introducing it to their own children.