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Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Reviews, Rough Times

JUSTIN CASE got a great review today in Publisher's Weekly!

They call it "an endearing portrait of a third-grade worrywart" and go on to say that Justin's "mishaps... are universally recognizable and distinguished by observations and details that consistently ring true, from being told to 'shake it off' on the soccer field to the horrible realization that all the 'good kids' were placed in the other class."

I love that they get how horrible that kind of realization can be to a kid, how utterly soul-crushing. Oh, man, being in the wrong class? Did that ever happen to you? Did you ever get the "bad" teacher when all your friends got the good one? This picture is of the teacher Justin got, the bad one, the scary one, the one whose name is Ms. Termini (say it out loud and you will see what bad news that is.) How dreadful was it to find out you were placed in the class with the mean teacher and all the bad kids?

And did anybody ever tell you to shake it off when you were trying your absolute best not to cry? Or tell you that whatever it is that you are utterly crushed by or outraged about is "not the end of the world"? Wow, you could really feel justified in hitting somebody with a pot, for a statement like that.

But adults say crap like that to kids all the time. We say no, we minimize, we tell them their pain is no big deal -- just wait until they have a job and a mortgage to deal with. We don't want the children we love to feel sad or bad or hurt or angry, so we tell them NO. No feeling that, it's nothing -- and don't always realize how degrading, demeaning, and dismissive we sound.

So, thanks, Publisher's Weekly, for highlighting one of those things we grown-ups sometimes treat too callously, and need to remind ourselves not to. It's not easy, but we have to realize that when our kids complain, it's not always our job to solve their problems or teach them how to solve them themselves -- even to shove some perspective into their limited sights -- but to just sit there and listen, as we'd want the people who love us to do when we feel temporarily bludgeoned by the world.

Meanwhile, I have also gotten some reviews from kids (who've read advance reader copies) that are really awesome -- well-written, full of insights and humor and compelling commentary.

I am thinking I will start to share those with you, in the coming days. In fact, maybe I will start posting a Review of the Day soon. If you read JUSTIN CASE and write a review, send it to me by email. I will pick a Review of the Day to post, and the reviewer will receive a FREE signed bookplate, with, of course, a SUPERSTAR on it... more details to come.

Meanwhile, in celebration of the great PW review du jour, here is Justin himself, today:

April 19, Monday

The bad thing about relay races in gym:
People chanting your nickname, "Justin Case," while you run

The good thing about relay races in gym:
They are not rope climbing, which is our next unit
Winning (which my team did)

Oh, I just read ahead. Tomorrow Justin writes a haiku. I love the haiku unit. I will have to to come back tomorrow and post that one. Did you ever write a haiku? April is National Poetry Month -- send in your haikus this week and I will post some of them along with Justin's...

Rachel Vail

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