Thursday, November 17, 2011
November Book Pick -- Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, by Julie Sternberg
The reason August was so bad was that her beloved babysitter, Bibi, had to move away to take care of an ill family member. So close and loving was their relationship that Bibi knew which of Eleanor's teeth were the loose ones. How would another babysitter ever compare?
Told in verse that makes it a fast read, the story still conveys Eleanor's adjustment to loving a new sitter while fondly remembering the old at a believable, gradual pace. What I love about this book is that no one is a disappointment; no one lets anyone down. Eleanor's parents are understanding, her new third-grade teacher is a gem, her new sitter Natalie is understanding plus just as competent as Bibi, and when Eleanor writes a letter to Bibi, she gets a warm response. This story is a wonderful example of how loss and change, which no one involved may really want, can not only be survived, but, in an atmosphere of love and support, can lead to growth and a greater wealth of life experiences. Even when the child needs to act out, such as when Eleanor grabs any book at random to read to herself rather than let Natalie read to her, and ends up with a book much too hard for her. (The illustration shows Moby Dick on the cover.)
And, I think, the book gives us at least one gentle caveat. We need to remember that continuity in a child's caregivers is important. Eleanor has had that continuity, and she's starting third grade, but even so, the change is hard for her. But with humor, patience, and love, these challenges can be overcome, even though life will manage to drizzle pickle juice on our cookies every once in a while. Highly recommended.