Tilly: This book shows lots of different women all doing different things. Mummy says I can do them too. All the women in the book have skin darker than mine, so maybe I can’t do all the things they can. My hair is the same colour as them though. What do you reckon? Do you need to have dark skin to do all those things?
Marian: That’s an interesting question. I have a book called I Want to be an Astronaut, and the girl astronaut has skin that’s almost the same color as mine, and blonde hair. So I think any girl can be an astronaut. I have no hair, so I hope having hair isn’t a prerequisite for any of these. And you know what? I have a keyboard like Nina Simone’s (except gray and not black, but Mommy says the keys are the same), and I play it just like she does, and sometimes I even sing. So I think we can be anything we want.
Tilly: Mummy sometimes says she wonders what I’ll be when I grow up. What do you think you’ll be when you grow up? Does your mummy ever talk to you about that? I want to do something where I can be outside a lot. I like going outside. There are woofs to pet and rocks to collect and dirt to play with! Outside is the best.
Marian: When I grow up, I want to be able to reach everything, and turn on the TV when I want, and have my own phone. I wonder what that’s called? I wonder if any of the ladies in the book can do these things? Mommy says I might be a music conductor. She can see me leading people, and because I love music. Which is true, I do love music. For Halloween, I was the Phantom of the Opera, so maybe as an adult, I can always be Phantom of the Opera.
Tilly: There’s an astronaut in this book! That’s kind of cool. My mum says her name is Mae Jemison and she’s the first African American woman to go to space. I like her because it reminds me of my other space book, the solar system one. Mummy says that I can be whatever I want to be but she hopes I won’t be an astronaut. She says it’s too scary. Do you have a favourite person in this book?
Marian: Astronauts are cool! I have several astronaut books too. Mommy says everyone in our family has really bad eyesight so that might mean I can’t be an astronaut, if I have bad eyesight too, but instead I could work on rocket ships, like Katherine Johnson, who is also in this book. Mommy says she was a mathematician for NASA. I don’t know how I feel about Mommy saying my eyes might be bad, because she also says my eyes are perfect. I get a lot of mixed signals. My favorite person in the book is Nina Simone. Mommy sometimes plays music where Nina Simone sings and plays the piano, just like in the book.
Tilly: I also liked Nina Simone. She’s sitting at a piano at the book! Mummy says she was a singer, pianist, songwriter, and activist in the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t know what all that means. But I think she made music. That’s why I like her. I like music. And I like watching other people play the piano. They press keys and music comes out! Like magic! Mummy told me you got a piano for your birthday. Did you really? You’re so lucky!
Marian: I LOVE my piano, and I sing while I play! It’s so much fun, and is definitely magic. I hope you get one someday too. Nina Simone sings this song called “Summertime” where fish are jumpin’, and that’s neat. I’d like to see a fish jump. Your mummy sounds like my mommy. She had a lot to say on every page, even though there didn’t seem to be that many words. Like, for Octavia Butler she went on and on about her adult books and how she won the MacArthur Genius Grant, whatever that means. Boring. Though I liked Octavia Butler’s pretty coat. Sometimes I had to take the book away from Mommy so she would stop going on and on explaining things I didn’t understand. But I get it. Mommy can get really excited about books, almost as excited as I do.