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.

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