I Will Be Fierce!
By Bea Birdsong
Illustrated by Nidhi Chanani
I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong captures one young girl’s journey as she takes on the world around her in valiant ways. Our protagonist finds that she has all the tools she needs to take on the things that frighten her. Author Bea Birdsong and illustrator Nidhi Chanani pair figurative language with beautiful depictions of the girl’s “real” world. When the girl “fill[s her] treasure chest,” she is filling up her backpack with tools for the day. When the girl “charge[s] the many-headed serpent,” she’s taking on a school bus filled with kids of all ages and sizes. This comparison between a knight’s journey and that of a young girl allows readers to see how bravery can be present in all situations.
I read this book with my fourth-grade class as they prepared for their transition to middle school. Many readers were extremely touched by the message of this story: You always have the opportunity to be brave. With the right tools (friendship, family, even your fashion!), you can take on what stands before you.
My students particularly enjoyed the spreads in the book that take place in the library. The protagonist takes on the Mountain of Knowledge by making the choice to read. This helps her solve the Mysteries of the Unknown. After reading, students wanted to make their own comparisons between aspects of their school lives and great, heroic adventures.
This book is a perfect read-aloud for back-to-school season, end-of-school season, or any time when students are taking on something new. The message encourages readers to take on what stands in their way with bravery and courage. However, it also shows that skills like empathy and kindness help us be brave and courageous. To build a bridge of friendship is a courageous feat.
I Will Be Fierce! can have many uses in the classroom. Here are a few ideas:
- For an interesting activity, try reading this book to students without showing the pictures, then read it again with the pictures. This draws attention to the ways the pictures add dimension to the story.
- After reading, students will enjoy making their own comparisons between heroic journeys and their lives. What parts of being a kid show bravery and courage? What parts of being a kid show challenge and perseverance? These questions can lead to personal narrative writing, poetry writing, or construction of students’ own picture books. Students can look at this book as a mentor for a text that tells a different story with the words and pictures.
- I Will Be Fierce! can be used as a mentor text for the craft move of repetition. The book features the repeated refrain of “I will _______.” Bea Birdsong’s lyrical text breaks up the pattern in key moments, such as “And then, I will rest.”
This beautiful text is perfect for #classroombookaday and all classroom read-alouds. It’s a great book to use as you kick off the 2019-2020 school year. Enjoy!