Sunday, August 23, 2015

Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume

Second-grader Andrew Marcus wants freckles.  He’s desperate to look like his friend Nicky Lane, who has freckles all over his face, ears, and neck.  Andrew even tried counting Nicky’s freckles one time, but he only got as far as eighty-six before his teacher caught him and told him to pay attention.  He’s tried everything to get the look he desires, including drinking a magic potion of “freckle juice”!  When it turns out that even secret recipes don’t work, Andrew takes matters into his own hands and uses a magic marker to draw dozens of brown freckles on his face! 

This short chapter book is an easy-to-read classic for boys or girls.  It’s almost guaranteed that your library will have it, so be sure to ask for “Freckle Juice” by name.  I enjoyed Mrs. Blume’s message about how you have to accept the body you’re born with, even when you might feel that you’re not as attractive as some of your friends.  Most of us are aware of the pressures that young women feel when it comes to their body image, but it’s easy to forget that young men often feel the same way!

“Freckle Juice” is a fast read for younger kids.  I’d have no problem recommending it to any boy who’s capable of working his way through one of the “Junie B. Jones” books, but who wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book about a GIRL!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

Let’s face it, we’ve all had days where absolutely nothing is going right.  Alexander is having one of those days too.  From the moment he gets out of bed in the morning, it seems like the whole world is lined up against him.  His brothers get toys in their breakfast cereal but he doesn’t.  He has to sit in the middle seat during the carpool ride to school.  His friends all have better lunches than he does.  The day just keeps getting worse as it goes on, and eventually Alexander thinks that the best course of action might be for him to simply chuck it all and move to Australia!

I love this book because it’s so easy to sympathize with Alexander and the situations that he’s facing on this one particular day.  For example, anyone who has brothers or sisters knows how hard it can be to share a bathroom!  When you’re having a bad day, even something that’s normally fun, like going shopping for new sneakers, can quickly descend into arguments or even fistfights!  I imagine that Mrs. Viorst must be a mother or a teacher, because she certainly knows how young men can sometimes act out when things don’t go our way.  The book follows Alexander through every heartbreaking moment of his “bad day”, and the hilarious illustrations by Ray Cruz do an awesome job of making the reader feel sympathetic.  Some of the pictures might seem a little dated since this book is now over forty years old, but I think that even kids raised up with Playstations and iPhones will still be able to relate to them.

One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that it doesn’t condescend to the reader, even though it’s a picture book aimed at younger men.  Sometimes you’ll feel like things aren’t going your way, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do but keep trying.  The world doesn’t revolve around you, after all.  In the end, I actually appreciated the fact that no one rushes in to save Alexander from his bad day because, as his mother says, some days are like that.

Even in Australia.