Thursday, August 13, 2009

Funky Pickles

The second School Daze book by Jerry Spinelli is Do the Funky Pickle, in which our heroes have a crush, a school dance, a fight with a bully, and a meeting with an author. This book concentrates mostly on Eddie, the wimp with the crush on Sunny, and Salem, whose attempts to help Eddie don't advance him much, and who then ignores her friend's escalating crisis to obsess about a favorite author's impending visit.

This one was light and pleasant, with a few morals learned but mostly accidental; it is actually hard to have a book about kids without them learning something at some point. But I found myself wishing for more time with Sunny, who gets very little attention, and for a rock to fall on Pickle's head because he just has much too perfect a life. He's kind, calm, talented but without stress, confident, athletic, and resourceful. He wins contests without trying but then gives away the prizes. He understands his friends' weaknesses, but doesn't make a point of his compassion. He's an all-round nice kid, and he sticks out like a sore thumb. We need a little time inside his head so we can see some insecurity, because all the rest of these kids have it in spades. B-

My fifth grader really likes these books, including this one, although I haven't pinned him down for his specific response. He thinks the third grader should read them too. Third grader keeps falling asleep, I think his bedtime needs to be moved up about two hours. I hope summer doesn't end anytime soon; we are just not ready.

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