Monday, September 6, 2010

A Boy’s Worst Nightmare–Maybe

The night before a new school year begins is always fraught with grave “what if’s.”

“What if I don’t know anyone?”

“What if all my friends are in the other kindergarten?” Or first grade. Everyone wants someone they can sit by. At least on the first day.

“What if all the kids are friends with each other but don’t want any new friends?”

Of course, the list is endless.

What could be the worst?
“What if I’m the only boy in a class of zillions of girls?”

19 GIRLS AND ME, by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Steven Salerno, Philomel books, 2006

This is the first day of John Hercules Po’s first week in kindergarten. He’s brave enough to walk through the door, but what a shocking discovery: he is the only boy in a class with, count them, 19 girls.

His brother, a big second grader, taunts him that those girls will turn him into a sissy. John Hercules has another idea. Why not turn all those girls into tomboys?

Each day, a new adventure. From climbing Mount Everest to digging to China to battling alligators in the Amazon River, John Hercules Po and his merry band conquer the world, limited only by their imaginations, which means, no limits at all.

A strange chemistry takes place. The girls don’t turn John Hercules into a sissy. John Hercules doesn’t turn them into tomboys.

This book is for boys, girls, and friends.

Illustrator Steven Salerno can boast of being a student under the legendary Maurice Sendak, but I suspect he spent his earliest student days drawing pictures of his classmates. How else could he capture the energy of 20 high spirited kids? Author Darcy Pattison is well known for her novel revision classes which she conducts all across the country. Here’s proof she knows a thing or two about picture books, too.

You’ll stake your claim on this book, even if you are the only parent in a room full of kindergartners.

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