Book Reviews: The Cambridge Verdi Encylopedia & Redefining Girly

Hello everyone,

here are two more book reviews for you. Enjoy!

The Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia by Roberta Montemorra Marvin
“Di Verdi non si butta via niente,” say the Italians. That means “you don’t throw away any of Verdi’s (music)”. His operas, such as Il Rigoletto, Aida and La Traviata, are still frequently performed all over the world and are as popular as ever. His popularity is partly due to his distinctive musical innovations, but in Italy he is also regarded as a symbol of patriotism and Italian unification, which he strongly supported.
This encyclopedia, written by a groups of experts on Verdi under the editorship of Roberta Montemorra Marvin, covers every aspect of the composer’s personal and professional lives. The longest entries (4-5 pages) are about his operas. In addition to a brief synopsis, the encyclopedia explains where he took his inspiration from, whom he collaborated with, the problems he encountered with the censors, and how they were received.
Briefer entries, sometimes even just a couple of lines long, are dedicated to the singers that performed his works, the impresarios, musicians, librettists and other professionals he worked with, his friends and family, his non-operatic works, and the places associated with him. Musical terms are also explained.
At the end of the book, there are appendixes that list all of Verdi’s known works (including unpublished ones), the characters in his operas and the singers who gave life to them on the stage, and a brief chronology of the composer’s life. This is not the easiest book to read (no encyclopedia is), but it is a great starting point for those who want to know more about Verdi and a great resource for scholars or die-hard fans who will be able to quickly look up any information or detail about the composer.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

Redefining Girly by Melissa Atkins Wardy
When a few years ago Melissa Wardy went shopping for clothes and other essentials for her baby girl Amelia, she noted a disturbing trend. Almost all of the products aimed at girls were pink, fluffy, glittery and plastered with images of princesses. Worse, they were becoming sexier and sexier. As that wasn’t enough, they were also separated by boys’ stuff, which came in bright, primary colours and decorated with dinosaurs, pirates and athletes.
All of this sends a worrying message to children. It reinforces stereotypes about genders, telling young girls that they are only valued for their appearance. The distinct separation between toys for girls and toys for boys may even prevent the two genders from playing together (because “boys can’t play with dolls” and “girls can’t play football”), thus eliminating precious opportunities for them to get to know each other and appreciate their strengths and differences. This distinction can also lead to girls being bullied for liking boy’s stuff and vice versa.
Melissa Ward has nothing against pink and princessy stuff (at least as long as it doesn’t send out sexual messages), but she believes that every girl is different and should be allowed to express her girlhood in her own way. There are lots of ways to be a girl, after all. So, she decided to do something about this issue. She became an activist for children’s right to a non-stereotyped and non-sexualized childhood, started a company, Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, who sells more appropriate and empowering apparel for children, and a blog where she discusses the issues close to any parent’s heart. She also wrote a book, Redefining Girly, about gender stereotypes, sexualization, marketing and childhood. Redefining Girly is not a boring essay. Instead, it is an inspiring and practical guide full of useful tips parents can use to raise girls in an age where the media, and the disturbing messages they send, are everywhere.
How do you keep your young daughter from hating her body? What do you do when she asks you to buy her an inappropriate toy that all her friends have? Or when a friend or relative buys her a dress you don’t think is suitable for her age? Or when she’s invited to a birthday party where she’s gonna be given a makeover, participate in a fashion show, and be offered an alcoholic cocktail while driving around in a limo? How do you withstand the pressure from your loved ones who think that you are uptight and making a huge issue out of nothing? What do you do when it is your pediatrician that makes demeaning comments about your daughter’s body? Or when it is her teacher that reinforces stereotypes about gender? And how do you let brands know your feelings about an inappropriate item they sell?
These are just a few of the questions covered in Redefining Girly. If you’ve ever wondered how to deal with these issues, you should pick up this book immediately. The author explains just what you have to do to protect your daughter in all these situations, to start conversations with her about media and body image issues and for refraining the way we speak to them. Wardy never preaches to you. Reading the book feels like talking to a fellow parent that shares your worries (which is just what Wardy is).
But you don’t have to be a parent to read it. Everyone has children they love in their lives (they can be your stepdaughter, your cousin, your best friend’s kid, your young students) and the way you behave around them can influence them in a positive or negative way. This book will teach how to talk to them and offer them a positive example to imitate.

Available at: amazon
Rating: 4.5/5

Are you planning to read these books, or have already?

Disclaimer: I received these book in exchange for my honest opinion. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

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