Sunday, September 1, 2013

Something for Everyone

Full-time teaching, parenting and my own writing schedule have kept we from Literary Lunchbox for far too long. I'm taking the Labor Day Holiday weekend to catch up on my blog and write a new post that has something for everyone.

There's been lots of talk recently about breaking the fourth wall, what it means and how to do it well. As a teacher of six, seven and eight year olds, I've been on the lookout for a great picture book that doesn't just break the fourth wall, but demonstrates how to do it. Hard to explain...

At the SCBWI conference last month I had the wildly wonderful opportunity to listen and learn from Mac Barnett, author of Chloe and the Lion. He was adorable and delightful and talked about a book that he wrote with illustrator Adam Rex. The book was Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, but he also talked about this incredibly spunky character named Chloe and her adventure with a lion (and a dragon.) But what really got be excited about this book was how to clearly illustrated what breaking the fourth wall means, and in a way that is accessible to little kids. Yay!

Teachers, parents, Santa Claus ~ if you haven't read Mac Barnett, you should.

Easter Ann Peters is trying to change her image. She's always been the good girl, the good student and
the teacher's pet. Heading into seventh grade, Easter wants to make new friends, stand up to a bully and get noticed. She has a plan - Operation Cool.

I loved this book because I loved Easter Ann Peters. She is so identifiable. We all have a bit of Easter in us. I also loved this book because it isn't just another "I want to be one of the popular kids" books. Easter is dealing with heavy issues at home, mainly her mother's depression and alcoholism.

 Jody Lamb does a magnificent job of developing Easter's character and portraying the struggle a child
must feel when she's worried about her mom, wishing she'd just get better but enabling her mom's alcoholism by covering for her and lying. She's a kid taking on adult responsibilities and doing what she thinks is best - until she realizes she's not.

I will continue to recommend this book to all middle grades readers, but will certainly emphasize the importance of Easter Ann Peters' ~ Operation Cool as a book that needs a space on every school counselor's bookshelf.

Now that I've highlighted a glorious picture book and a touching middle grades novel, I want to round out this blog post with a not-to-be-missed young adult read. Eleanor & Park. This book should be on everyone's TBR pile. Rainbow Rowell has a stolen the YA crown this summer with this beautifully-written, character-driven teen love story.

Here's what I wrote on Goodreads: This book was clever and sharp and so hit the spot without trying too hard. Rainbow Rowell's ability to jump in and out of character seemed effortless. Eleanor was wounded without all the angst and Park was the boy every girl should get for their first boyfriend. The 80's pop culture references and the raw dialogue were outstanding. Yay.

Blog you later!

Ali B.


Christina said...

Love Love Love Mac Barnett!!! Extra Yarn is one of our favorites although we're a 2 boy household.

Jody Lamb said...

Hi Ali,

Thank you so much for your kind words about Easter Ann Peters' Operation Cool. That truly means a lot.

- Jody Lamb