Imagination and stories abound in Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. It’s no surprise that out of many this children’s books, this one became a Reading Rainbow title. It encourages creativity and sends the message that children can be what they want to be as long as they try hard enough.
Grace hears tales and imagines herself in the roles from Joan of Arc to Anansi the Spider. When her class plans to act out the play of Peter Pan, of course Grace wants to be Peter! But some of her classmates don’t think so. Grace is a girl and what’s more, she’s black. With a strong resolve, inspiration from her mother, grandmother, and a beautiful Trinidad ballet dancer, Grace knows in her heart that she will be Peter Pan no matter what anyone thinks or says.
Caroline Binch provides fantastic watercolor illustrations for Amazing Grace. Bright and wonderfully detailed, they can evoke any child’s imagination and bring forth a smile. Binch catches the character of Grace masterfully, from her costumes to her facial expressions. Teachers and parents alike will enjoy this book for the positive notion that can inspire confidence in children and show them that by believing in themselves, they can accomplish what they set out to achieve.
Amazing Grace touches on social issues like racism and stereotypes and can ultimately show children that in the end it doesn’t matter who or what you are as long as you are good at what you do. Grace is able to wipe out her classmates’ prejudices and fulfill one of her heart’s desires, an act everyone can appreciate.