Written by Annika Dunklee, Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Kids Can Press, 2011
My name is Elizabeth. I really like my name. I like that it’s nine letters long.
Elizabeth likes a lot of things about her first name, including the fact that she shares a name with a queen. She does not, however, like it when people try to shorten her name to any of the typical nicknames for Elizabeth. As she goes through her day, she is addressed as Liz, Lizzy, Beth and Betsy by different people. Finally, she announces to everyone that her name is Elizabeth Alfreda Roxanne Carmelita Bluebell Jones, but she invites them to simply call her Elizabeth. When everyone starts addressing her correctly, she is pleased and when her little brother calls her ‘Wizabef,’ she determines that to be close enough.
Author Annika Dunklee was inspired to write this book after years of having her name mispronounced and shortened when she was a child. And it’s definitely a relatable subject to most of the people I know. My husband’s real first name is James, but he goes by Jack and whenever people (usually salesmen) try to get all chummy with him by calling him Jim, you can see one of his eyes start to twitch. And I am fine with Chris or Christine, but call me Chrissy or Christy and I will look around to see who you’re talking to. Ms. Dunklee gives Elizabeth a love of her name that empowers her to live up to her own expectations of her name. She is never rude to anyone that calls her the wrong name and she stands up for herself politely, with a beautiful sense of self-worth.
Illustrator Matthew Forsythe (who says on the book jacket that he doesn’t mind being called Matt) combines pen and ink, gouache and digital illustration to create Elizabeth’s world. The pictures only use a color palette of light blue and a reddish-orange, which gives them a cool retro feel. Although it’s never mentioned in the story, Mr. Forsythe adds in some cool details, such as Elizabeth’s pet duck who sticks close by her side. I also really like the series of drawings, after she mentions that she likes the things her mouth does when she says her name, that shows her mouth forming all the different sounds in Elizabeth. She is drawn as spunky and confident and just looking at her, I would definitely call her Elizabeth and nothing else.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that your name is an important part of what makes you YOU and it deserves to be what you want it to be.