Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Yes, This is a Copout

Only one entry for the entire month of December. How lame.

I will soon have a lengthy entry with several links. Until I have time to write it, I am linking you to the Fairrosa Cyber Library of Children's Literature where you can take a Newbery Honors Book Survey. If you are like me, you will be humbled to find how little reading you've done. However, I did recognize a lot of the names!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A Book I Like

The ol' webmaster has been on my case because I haven't updated my weblog recently. He's been complaining that I haven't given him all the material for the slides I need for next month's presentation, too. Yeah, he complains all the time, but he's very handy.

I recently finished a book I actually sort of liked. I'm not going to rave about it, but I think it's worthy of a recommendation. Melonhead by Michael de Guzman is the story of Sidney T. Mellon, Jr. a twelve year old with a head too big for his body. Evidently, he is really odd looking because people are always staring at him. A great many of them are rude and unkind so they call him Melonhead.

Now Sidney is a child of divorce and shuttling back and forth between his father in Los Angeles and his mother, her second husband, and stepson in Seattle. He gets fed up and takes off on a cross country trip by bus. He gets away with it for quite a while because each of his parents believes he is with the other one. Each chapter involves his interaction with a new person, often a person who could end up injuring him in some way. Sidney provides each person he meets with a new, ridiculous story about who he is and where he's going and escapes nearly unscathed.

There are two really interesting things about this story. One, of course, is the stories Sidney makes up. The other is that many, if not most, of the adults in this book are probably stereotypes. But de Guzman made them so real again that I didn't care. Sidney's father is the classic good looking ne'er do well who can barely support himself, let alone a child. His mother has made a bad second marriage to a nasty guy who isn't good to her child. His grandmother is estranged from her adult child. I think the reason I bought into these characters is that they really do exist in nature (Maybe they are archetypes instead of stereotypes? I'll have to look archetype up.) More importantly, they really do care about Sidney.

Here's the drawback, though. (I know, there's always a drawback when I'm reading something.) What's the point of having the kid look so odd? I mean, he's adults staring odd. Wasn't the divorce problem enough? The divorce thing is a real problem that real kids face. And, yes, looking odd is a real problem that real kids face, but I think in this particular case the head thing is a distraction.

But, really, for the most part it was a good book.