As far as children’s stories go, Robert Munsch has perfected a formulaic prose. Each book is an ideal length for bedtime reads, parents can easily become the characters, and kids love the fun, imaginative plots. Mr. Munsch understands a method of writing for children that makes them feel involved, interested, and intelligent. Typically, the child protaganists in his stories are responsible, resourceful, and can figure out solutions before the parent characters. Stephanie’s Ponytail is probably Mr. Munsch‘s most underrated book, and a great example of not underestimating how smart kids can be.
Published in 1996, Stephanie’s Ponytail is Robert Munsch’s 26th book, and the 17th to feature the artwork of Michael Martchenko. Like all of Robert Munsch’s children’s stories, the book was conceptualized through improvisation during one of his many performances and refined through multiple re-tellings. Each Munsch book is dedicated to a child that was present for the original story, sometimes his own adopted children, this one is dedicated to Stephanie of Durham, Ontario. 4 years after the original telling, Mr. Munsch surprised Stephanie with a published copy of the story, she was very upset, for when she was called to the principals office she thought she was in trouble.
Featuring a young girl, expectantly named Stephanie, getting prepared for school she requests from her mother to give her a nice ponytail. At school, the children proceed to make fun of her hair, the brave girl reacts by telling the other children that she likes her hair, unconcerned with their mocking. When Stephanie returns to school the next day all the girls have copied the ponytail. Frustrated the next day Stephanie requests a ponytail on the side of her head. Again she is mocked; again she stands proud; again the children imitate the hairstyle. This process continues a couple more times with a ponytail coming out the top, and hilariously out the front. Resulting in a lot of children and staff unable to see where they’re going. At the end of her rope with every one imitating her, Stephanie tells them she has had enough and is going to shave her head. The next morning every one at the school arrives with bald heads, except Stephanie who arrives with a nice ponytail coming out the back.
As you can see, there are many important lessons taught in this story. Do not be a follower, stand up for yourself, it is okay to be different, there are many morals hidden in this book but the main one is important; do not let other peoples opinions change who you are. The manner in which this story progresses and Stephanie handles herself, are ideal lessons for the youth of our generation. Bullying has become a major issue, and the powerful Stephanie gives a great example on how to use your voice, while being strong and proud.
I have made many recommendations for children’s literature now, some for fun, some for their importance in todays culture. Stephanie’s Ponytail is one of my favorites and one I think all children today should know. I memorized this story years ago, and will recite it to my own children on trips out of town, or an impromptu story request. I cannot think of a more under appreciated children’s story, I give it 5/5 with bonus points for moral relevance. If your kids have not heard this story, today is a good day to go to the library.
Thanks booknerds, its my blog post, ‘and I like it!’