Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Book Pick -- Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, by Julie Sternberg

Eleanor had such a bad August, it was as bad as pickle juice on a cookie. But when she said it was as bad as the black parts of a banana, I laughed and was hooked.

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.


Vijaya said...

Everyone in our family could use this book right now. With the holidays around the corner we are missing our family and friends. And although we are forging new relationships, they take time for the closeness to develop. Thanks for this book rec.

Bish Denham said...

Small changes can be just as difficult for children as big ones. I think adults sometimes forget that, or don't understand. It may be nothing to them, but it can be HUGE to a kid.

Barbara Watson said...

I like what you said about no disappointment. Sometimes change is just change for no other reason than it has to be that way because it's what life threw our way. A good thing for us all to remember. This sounds like a delightful read.

Andrea Mack said...

Oh, I haven't seen this one before. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for the review.

Bish, interesting point about small changes. I come across this issue sometimes when I'm thinking about "stakes" for my characters in MG. Sometimes the stakes might seem small to us as adults, but to kids or to the child reader, they could be higher.

Marcia said...

Vijaya -- Yes, I see what you mean! Hope you enjoy it.

Bish -- So true, that's why I was glad the adults in the story were so aware of how it was for the MC.

Barbara -- Yes, this wasn't about anybody "quitting" on anybody; it was just the way life had to move. A satisfying read on several levels.

Andrea -- I like your observation on stakes in relation to this. The stakes don't have to be death and planetary destruction in every book. Small things DO matter and have the power to change everything.

Mary Witzl said...

I wish we'd had an older kids' version of this book when we first moved to Scotland from Japan -- (which, coincidentally, is what I'm writing now). Change is hard for everybody, adults included. We're just better at hiding our insecurities and confusion than kids are.

Elizabeth said...

Very nice blog.



Anonymous said...

I see this in my students. Changes are jarring for them, and it's interesting to see how they cope and adjust--I always hope for the best, and that they come out stronger.

I added this to my wish list.

Have a great weekend.

Faith E. Hough said...

Thanks for the recommendation. That title alone makes me want to read it!

cleemckenzie said...

I love books told in verse and I especially love to read them aloud to kids.

Thanks for this, Marcia. Glad the black spots on the banana got you hooked!

Christina Farley said...

What an intriguing book. My kids went through some big changes when we moved from overseas.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

This sounds like a lovely book. I can't wait to check it out.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

What a great topic for a book. Change is so hard. Adults often say how resilient kids are. My theory is that kids cope and go on...but they still have to deal with changes like adults do.

Susan Fields said...

Sounds like a warm and touching book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

This sounds like such a sweet story. Change is hard for everyone. Thank goodness for wonderful books to help us cope.

Marcia said...

Mary -- That's true. Leaving friends is hard at any age. I recall a friend who moved a lot growing up. It was her mom who eventually stopped trying to make friends.

Elizabeth -- Thank you, and thanks for coming! :)

Medeia -- Even welcome changes can be tough, so it's always wrenching when the change is due to something we didn't want to happen. We all need to get to a place where we look for the growth in it.

Faith -- Totally agree about the title!

Lee -- I love the way verse novels evoke emotion with such spare writing. And I can only think that kids appreciate how fast they go.

Christina -- I'm sure they must have. Sometimes the world isn't as small as we think.

inluv -- I think you'll enjoy it.

Sharon -- I too think the resilience can be overrated. I suspect adults often say this to try to assuage their own guilt.

Susan -- That's exactly the kind of book it is.

Cynthia -- Amen! Stories are a great place to work out so many things.