So, I may have mentioned this big box of books that we got from Scholastic. There was much rejoicing and plundering here, followed by just regular life of course, though a few of the books got me thinking. One thing I've been thinking is how much one wants to speak kindly of something one has received for free. Another thing I've been thinking about is the result of one of the books.
Holy Christ that's a big image.
I read the first line of one of these books (they sent me two) and then I tossed it aside, because I couldn't (I told myself) deal with the cutesy, all-too-winning forced quirkiness—the dog called Turk because his real name is Turkey on Rye, the boy who crochets shoelaces, the "charving" of cheese into the shapes of the 50 states. It seemed like a whole lot of forced whimsy, and there is not much that bothers me more than forced whimsy.
But then I, for some reason or another (possibly in preparation for another critical post I am thinking over) I picked it up again, and then I read it. And I saw that there was something else going on, as well. Because Oggie (I know, I know, the name is all part of it) is not only "quirky" but he's also, actually, quirky. As in, really quirky. As in, has difficulty reading social cues, dressing appropriately, knowing quite what's going on.
The book itself? Fine. Sweet. Humorous. The whimsy not so much forced, as it felt at first, but necessary to its lilting acceptance of its hero's true misfitness.
And it made me think: it's rare that a book lets the hero really be a misfit—a real one. It made me think: wouldn't it be great to be accepting and appreciative of your child's every foible and difference, rather than to think of yourself as the metaphorical sandpaper of the world, smoothing away all the roughness. It made me wonder: would any child, no matter how difficult it is for them to make their own way in this wicked old world, see themselves in the truly odd boy that is Oggie? It might be worth finding out.
This book could be really interesting to lots of kids, especially boys who don't even exactly understand what it means to fit in. It's a pretty good level for a third grader. I'll be interested to know what people think.