“Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkens


If we have already talked about shoes, we might as well touch upon other accessories. How about purses? If you are a parent of a girl, you are probably nodding. If you have a son, you are most likely about to skip this post, right? Well, don’t. For one, the book is not only about purses. Secondly, little boys are more open-minded than we might think. The other day, I complemented my son’s friend on his bag. He corrected me. “It’s actually a purse.” I said that purses are more for girls. But he assertively responded, “this is a purse, though.” How can you argue with that!

Anyway, as a mom of two boys, I had no idea that purses are such a common accessory of little girls these days.  My son, like other boys, would bring his lunch to school in a regular backpack. But girls pack their tasty snacks in the most (un)tasteful purses. LOL! Fashion on the verge of kitsch, and the more tacky the thing, the more popular it is. Plastic mixed with plush, Hanna Montana with Hello Kitty. Feathers, fake gems, a stuffed puppy sticking out of the bag… It’s as mind-boggling as hilarious!

If your daughter is one of the purse-loving-fashionistas, she might enjoy reading about Lilly and her purple purse.

Lilly was so excited about her new purse, that she brought it to school and wanted to show it to everyone, including her favorite teacher. Unfortunately, he was not exactly happy to see that his usually attentive student was not only distracted but also distracting other children. He took the purse away until the rest of the day. Now Lilly was the one who was not exactly thrilled…The war has begun, as you can tell. If  you want to see how it ended, I can only add that the magical “I’m sorry” did the trick again. 

As you can tell, the story is not only for girls and the purple purse is just a pretext to talk about broader issues: how to deal with distractions and negative emotions. Children like bringing toys and other gadgets to school in order to show or share them with their friends. It is a natural way of sharing joy. But children should be reminded that it is not show-and-tell every day. Toys and other items from home might be disturbing to the teacher and distracting for the rest of the class. Not to mention that things can get lost,  trigger jealousy, etc. In other words, as a parent and a teacher, I would keep it minimal.

As far as the other aspect of the book, how to deal with negative emotions, I think the book paints a very realistic picture. We all have some negative feelings from time to time, so it is not a matter of teaching our children to suppress them, but to control them and be accountable.

I wonder if your children have any favorite toys or accessories that they can’t part with and drag to school in their backpacks.  Please, let us know. My son has always had a little hot wheel car with him. And it took him a few lost cars, a few upset friends (there were more friends than cars) and one annoyed teacher to learn not to bring his treasures to the classroom.

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