Made By Raffi

One of La Serpiente’s current favourite books is Made By Raffi, the story of a slight, quiet, longhaired boy who doesn’t like the rowdy activities of his classmates, and finds salvation in knitting scarves and making clothes.

Part way through the book Raffi asks his parents if he’s strange. Is he a tomgirl for not conforming to gender norms about modes of play? I appreciate that the authors are trying to say that different activities are equally valid and Raffi is perfectly fine knitting rather than playing football, but I still have some qualms. The underlying message seems to be that some things are normal for boys or for girls, and other activities, however equally valid they may be, are not normal.

The view I’d prefer to teach my daughter, that different modes of behaviour are equally valid and there isn’t s "normal" we should compare to, is absent from Made With Raffi, no matter how encouraging his parents are.

Still, La Serpiente keeps requesting it, although she takes issue with my pronunciation of Miss Hernandez’s surname. I do it the way my Spanish teachers taught me, dropping the "h" and lisping the "z", whereas La Serpiente expects the more anglicised hard "h" and silibant "z" to come through. Now who’s got strict ideas about what is correct and what’s not?

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