"That night, the monster crawled backwards through the window…again. It scrambled with its short legs, trying to reach the floor. Marlow crossed his a"That night, the monster crawled backwards through the window…again. It scrambled with its short legs, trying to reach the floor. Marlow crossed his arms and said, ‘I’ve had enough!’” – Page 1
Unlike scary monsters, the monster infiltrating young Marlow’s room does not send him hiding under the covers. Marlow’s unwelcome monster is a pest. He is uncooperative, has a hard time listening and does nothing but cause trouble for poor Marlow with his parents. You see, they don’t believe in this monster nonsense because all they see are the results of the monster’s work. They just want Marlow to knock it off and behave, like his little sister, Sarah. It turns out that Sarah is the one with the solution for Marlow’s monster, and it doesn’t involve making him disappear. Turns out, monsters can be pretty neat to have around.
I received a free copy of Sharon Cramer’s newest children’s book in exchange for participation in a blog tour. I willingly agreed because my dusty degree in Elementary Education gave me another layer of interest in the kiddo books beyond my childhood fondness for them. I am forever casting an evaluative eye on the topics their stories tell and the way the writers and illustrators choose to give them life.
Cramer is both the author and illustrator of this work and the drawings are meticulous. I am always appreciative of fine details to examine and pick up on throughout multiple readings, because a good one is going to be read over and over and over and over if the child has their way. Looking for the little mouse, examining the literary titles on Marlow’s bookshelf or watching the kitty come and go were fun to notice on my subsequent readings. I was not a fan of the black & white palette, finding it a bit harsh on the eyes and kind of busy with so many lines capturing all of that detail. But the style serves the purpose of highlighting the brightly colored monster, so vividly painted because only the children can see him.
As for the story, I didn’t quite get it myself initially. Monster is annoying, monster gets kid in trouble, monster gets passed off onto little sister, little sister turns monster into friend, kid happy with new playmate. It was odd to me that the monster wasn’t scary – so what’s the big deal then? He wanted to play in the way he thought the boy would enjoy. I honestly found Marlow more irritating than the monster! But forgive me. I skimmed through very quickly on my way out the door for a weekend away with family. I didn’t spend any real time thinking it through. But I did tuck it in my bag to share with the kids I’d be seeing for the next few days.
I gathered the kids around me while they were off playing away from the grownups. I didn’t want any helpful parents providing influence on the task at hand. I explained to the group of boys (First, Second and Third Graders) that I like to read a lot of books. And I write my thoughts about them on a website. Kind of like a book report. And sometimes, the people that write books send them to me for free hoping that I will read and write about their stories so other people can learn about them. I told the boys that this time however, I was sent a children’s book. And since I’m a grownup and my child is too little for this book, I needed some children to read it and review it for me. I let them know that it was a book about a monster – who was not scary. He was a real pest. Kind of like an annoying little brother who doesn’t listen and as a result, you always end up getting yelled at by mom and dad (it should be noted that two of the boys present were in fact brothers and the elder looked at me very knowingly when I went through this part of my summary). I told them that there was also a little sister in the story with an important role (all of these boys happened to have a little sister). I asked them if they could help me and they all agreed. I handed it over and one of the boys clapped his hands together like the quarterback coming out of the huddle and said “OK guys – let’s read.”
Although I had expected they would all read the book together, it seems they instead took turns reading it alone. Each one of the boys came up to me separately later in the evening and told me that the book was “Awesome!” They really liked the pictures. They volunteered a synopsis so I knew that they had each in fact truly read the tale. They thought it was a fun book and enjoyed reading it. They did not have any questions, for me or for the author. If I had read it to them instead, I could have gauged things a little better, but I wanted them to be fully in charge of this big responsibility so I left it in their hands. They seemed quite pleased with themselves.
Because these were not my children, because I was not trying to turn it into a round table discussion that might cause an attention revolt and because I really just wanted to get back to my cocktail conversation with the grownups, I didn’t engage the kids further about the kinds of fears they have in their worlds. I didn’t find out if they picked up on the lesson of learning to manage anxieties. That feelings are valid, whether they are always acknowledged by others or not. That killing things with kindness is often the key. All of these are lessons this book can bring up for discussion depending upon the age level of your child....more
As a child coming of age in the early '80's, Judy Blume was a staple in my life. I don't remember ever reading Forever though - after reading it justAs a child coming of age in the early '80's, Judy Blume was a staple in my life. I don't remember ever reading Forever though - after reading it just now for an online group readalong, I'm pretty sure it would have been hard to forget!
Katherine meets Michael at a New Year's Eve party during their senior year of high school and they begin a very serious relationship. Katherine is a virgin but curious about sex and interested in having it with the right partner - someone that she loves and trusts. Michael is "the one." He takes things slow with her, but still puts enough pressure on her to eventually get her to agree to have sex. But Michael has truly fallen for Katherine. Head over heels. The two of them are like that couple you hated who were always holding hands and talking on the phone for hours about how much they couldn't stand to be apart for two seconds. Katherine's parents think this whole deal is getting too much for their 18 year old girl and so they encourage separation during the summer before college begins. This leads to lots of letter writing but also shows Katherine that there are in fact other fish in the sea when she isn't staring at Michael non-stop.
The book is very graphic in its treatment of sex. It could make certain people blush. But it wasn't pornographic, dirty or salacious. It addressed the types of questions teens would have about the opposite sex, sexual organs, foreplay, the act of sex, and everything after. The book also focuses strongly on relationships - trust, loyalty, jealousy, having a strong foundation, supportive and open parents, love, friendship and humor. It takes sex seriously and shows it from multiple angles - being a virgin, being sexually active, being confused about sexual orientation, being pregnant.
I appreciate Blume's ability to educate teens realistically about the world they find themselves in. I personally couldn't relate very much to Katherine since I never had a super awesome dude asking me out and fawning all over me, treating me with respect and love. I didn't have her problems of being separated from her boyfriend against her will. I'm not sure that a lot of girls have Katherine's teen life. But if they follow her lead and wait to have sex until they are ready mentally/emotionally as well as physically, look into birth control, and give up their virginity to someone who loves and respects them, they'll be better served than following some of their current pop culture role models out there portraying a more slutty version as cool. ...more
I bought this book as a gift for someone else because it was on their wish list. And then before sending it to them I decided to peek inside the pagesI bought this book as a gift for someone else because it was on their wish list. And then before sending it to them I decided to peek inside the pages ever so carefully so as not to mess it up.
I must say, for a book geared towards young people I was a little surprised to read about a murderer just finished killing a family in their home and searching high and low for the young toddler who was nowhere to be found. Yikes! So if your young reader tends towards nightmares? Maybe not the book for them, even if they are old enough.
The little toddler that wanders away from the guy with the knife finds his way into a graveyard just up the street and some kindly souls buried there decide to take him in, at the urging of his frantic and newly deceased mother before she heads off to some other resting spot.
Raised by ghosts and protected by a vampire, the child named Nobody grows up in the graveyard. He learns to read and write as well as his figures from headstones. There are a variety of smart dead people always teaching him various things about the past, the living and the worlds beyond.
Bod (short for Nobody) ventures outside the gates every now and then, and interacts with a few visitors who wander through his home so he gets a taste of what is out there - but the killer is still trying to track him down so he is only truly safe in the graveyard.
The story was well written, quite humorous, clever and a page turner. There were some obvious twists but still plenty of pleasant surprises. It does not dumb anything down and although there are scary and violent moments, it is not gruesome or descriptive of death. Well, not the dying part. There is plenty to tell of the dead - and how much they cared for one living little boy....more