Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sissy Duckling

By Henry Fierstein

This is a book that I found on Amazon's controversial book list. The front cover caught my eye; it has a baby duck wearing heart sunglasses and a pink backpack with flowers on it. The title immediately caught my attention as well; the word 'sissy' is not very politically correct as it can be a derogatory term for gay. I flipped to the back cover when I picked up this book, and found out that the author is a gay rights activist. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought that it sent a positive message that Elmer (the main character, who is teased for being 'sissy') was very happy with himself and did the things he loved to do. It was a little stereotypical in that the father duck tried to get Elmer to play baseball instead of dancing and was ashamed of his son. The mother duck, on the other hand, was proud of her son and was very supportive. I thought this book brought up another important topic--bullying. It was very disheartening to see Elmer become afraid to even be at home. One quote that broke my heart was "Even then, alone in the dark, there was no place for Elmer". I think a lot of children may be able to relate to how Elmer felt alone and out of place. The book ends on a rather positive note, with Elmer saving his father's life and his father accepting Elmer for the way he is and standing up for him. The bully also makes amends with Elmer and Elmer no longer feels different from everyone but in fact more special. Overall, I can see why this book is controversial because it implies that Elmer is gay, and it is also very stereotypical in the activities that Elmer liked to do such as baking, making crafts and dancing. Yet I feel that this book could send a positive message to children who may feel different, who are bullied, or who do not always get approval from their parents.

Pinkerton, Behave!

By Steven Kellogg

This book was also on Amazon's controversial book list. The story is about a Great Dane puppy who does not listen and often misbehaves. It was deemed controversial because it has a picture of a robber holding a gun on the front cover as well as at the mother's head when he breaks into their home. Although the only picture of the front cover of this book that I could find is different; the robber is just seen looking in the window. I thought it was interesting that there was not a father figure in the story and that Pinkerton was sort of his replacement because he is so big and should be good at protecting its owners. Yet after going through dog training, the mother and daughter have found out that Pinkerton is very loveable and will do the opposite of the command. So when a robber breaks into their home, Pinkerton licks the robber when he hears the word "burglar" but when they yell the word "fetch" he attacks the burglar and saves their lives. Also the robber says "This is a stickup, lady. Don't move or I'll blast you and your silly hound to chicken powder." I felt that the pictures as well as the text were too graphic for a children's book and agree that it should be banned.

And Tango Makes Three

By Peter Parnell

I loved this book!! I think that this book has gotten a lot of slack and is probably one of the most controversial children's books of the past couple years. When I had to pick out 5 controversial books to blog about, this book was my first choice. I felt that the illustrations were very simple but unique; I loved the pictures of the baby penguins, they were so cute! I would love to include this book in a unit of families but would definitely be worried about what parents would have to say. I think that I would include it depending on the school district I teach in as well as having the principals' approval. etc. Throughout the book I thought it was also a good wayto start a science lesson by discussing how different animals interact and reproduce. I had also heard that the story is real; and the author's note at the end in fact confirmed that is was. I usually pass by the author's note but i thought that this author's note was particuluarly good. It made the story come alive and gave a very positive outlook on the story. What a great book!

The Un-Wedding

By Babette Cole

This controversial children's picture book has an interesting take on divorce. By the first sentence, I could tell that this author has a good sense of humor, as the family's last name is Ogglebutt. I enjoyed the second page and third page that was a diagram of the huge mansion the family lived in and had captions of what each parent hated about the other. It then had pictures of what each parent thought of as fun--which were complete opposites. I thought it was very interesting how the author then has a 4 progressing pictures of how the mother and father went from loving eachother and looking beautiful to how they grew to hate eachother and look "uglier and uglier". The two parents looked older, meaner, and each had much longer noses. It made me wonder why she chose to make their noses longer to symbolize the oppositive of beauty. After a slew of practical pranks that the parents play on eachother, the children start to take an active role in helping their parents become happy again. After talking it through with their peers, they decide to go talk to a minister about un-marrying their parents. After that point, it seemed like everyone was happy. I thought it was interesting that the illustrator used black for everything that was included in the 'un-wedding'. It was almost as if they were holding a funeral for the death of their parent's marriage yet it was a very happy time for everyone. Overall I felt that this book had a humorous take on divorce and I think it would be great to include in my classroom library because so many children have divorced parents.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Bit More Bert

By Allan Ahlberg

Once again, I found this book in my practicum classroom. This book was not what I expected. It was set up like a chapter book but with very little text. It was humorous because all the characters in the book were named Bert, even the dog! My first grade students did not enjoy this book as much as the others I have talked about because the illustrations are smaller and because it does not allow for prediction and is not very exciting. This is one of my least favorite books I have read so far.

Bear Feels Sick

By Karma Wilson

I read this book during my practicum in a first/second grade split classroom. It was a great read aloud! The main character, the bear, is sick throughout the majority of the book and his friends from the woods are helping him get better. They make him soup and give him blankets and try to help him get rest. When the bear finally falls asleep, he wakes up feeling much better. But then all the friends that helped him get sick. The children had fun predicting what was going to happen once the bear woke up. The illustrations were very large which made it easy for everyone to see. Overall, a good book when you have ten minutes to fill!