Book review: My Name Is Not Isabella

Isabella is a little girl with a great imagination and big dreams. Photo: books, children, girls, women's history, science, story, picture book

SILVER SPRING, Md, March 1, 2013 – My Name Is Not Isbella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? written by Jennifer Fosberry, illustrated by Mike Litwin ISBN: 9781402243950

Isabella is a little girl with a great imagination and big dreams. The story follows Isabella through a day when she pretends to be some of the most notable women in history. As she gets out of bed she is Sally Ride. At breakfast she is Annie Oakley. Rosa Parks appears as she rides the bus to school. Homework turns Isabella into Marie Curie. With dinner Elizabeth Blackwell helps set the table. Then as bath time arrives, Isabella turns into Mommy. At the end of the day, Isabella turns back into herself as she climbs into bed, but falls asleep dreaming of who she might be tomorrow.

An important element of this story is the mother. She willingly plays along with her daughter’s fantasies, calling the little girl by the character names she insists on. The mother encourages the imaginative play, rather than breaking the spell of the worlds Isabella creates.

Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.


This is a great book for young girls. It shows them that women cannot only succeed in fields normally dominated by men, like science and medicine, but they can be pioneers and leaders. At the same time, the book recognizes the importance of simply being “Mommy.” This is also a good break from princesses, ballerina and dress-up.

It also is a good conversation starter. Most children are not going to be familiar with these women, and you can introduce these historical figures and why they are important through this story.

If you wanted to engage your little girl even more, you could always replace the name “Isabella,” with your child’s name while reading. Doing so may encourage your child to begin envisioning herself as the women being portrayed in the story, which might jumpstart an interest in new areas.

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.


The colorful pictures transform little Isabella into these great women while not loosing Isabella. The artwork incorporates everyday items to give a nod to the creativity and imagination of children. Rosa Parks is on a school bus instead of a public bus. Annie Oakley uses six-shooters made from syrup bottles, and Elizabeth Blackwell cures her stuffed animals.

Published in September of 2010 by Monkey Barrel Press, My Name Is Not Isabella is available as a hardcover or an ebook. It reached New York Times Bestseller list and won the Silver ForeWord Book of the Year Award for Picture Books, Gold Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and the Gold Independent Publisher Book Award.


Follow Brighid on Twitter a @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook or Google+. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times. Find more reviews of children’s picture books at Big Reads For Little Hands.



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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret


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