Brave Irene was written and illustrated by William Steig and published in 1986.
This story follows a little girl named Irene Bobbin who is the daughter of a dressmaker. One day her mother falls ill during a snowstorm and is unable to deliver a dress she has made the duchess for a ball. Irene decides that she is going to brave the snowstorm and deliver the dress herself. The snowstorm turns out to be very strong and Irene faces many difficulties including the wind, the snow, and other obstacles during her journey. Eventually Irene reaches the palace and stays the night because the storm has become so bad. Irene dances the night away at the ball and is returned to her mother safely the next morning.
Many children may not have encountered a book like this one, in which a young child is faced with an adult problem that is actually quite dangerous and scary. I think children will respond well to reading about a character who has to face such a big problem. They will also be eager to find out what happens next to Irene since the plot of this book is not a predictable or repeated one. Boys may not be as interested in reading this book because it is about a little girl that is delivering a dress, but they may find it interesting because she has to survive through a snow storm.
The illustrations in this book are somewhat cartooned. Steig does a good job of incorporating realistic colors though, which makes the story seem more true to reality. Irene’s emotions are clearly expressed through the illustrations, which will be helpful to children who might not necessarily understand the descriptions in the text. Additionally, his use of color will allow children to better understand the mood of the text. When the descriptions are of Irene suffering and pushing through the snowstorm, deep blues and grays are used to match her emotions and the weather.
Overall, I think this book will be enjoyed by many different children. It teaches the lesson of perseverance and determination. It also shows that children are capable of much more than they may think, they just have to set their minds to it. There is also a lot of descriptive words used throughout this book, which can be helpful in teaching children how to write in different ways.
I chose this book for my “Traditional Thursday” post because I have loved this book since I was little and I do not think that it is given enough attention. I think that this book has valuable lessons and definitely can be utilized by a teacher for different reasons in a classroom setting.