Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick

First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick
Rating: 5 stars

Clarion Books

Oh dear ME this is such a funny book--and, better yet, wonderfully comforting for kids to read, especially at the beginning of the school year!

The narrator admits to being many things in his young life: hungry, four years old, crazy bored, soaking wet. But now he can add first grade dropout to his list. Because he did such an embarrassing thing that now he can never, ever, ever go back to Lakeview Elementary School tomorrow.

What did he do? He called his teacher, Ms. Morgan, "Mommy."

And everyone laughed. Including his best friend Tyler. "They laughed and slapped their desks and stomped their feet. And pointed. At me." Clever Audrey Vernick writes, "It was quiet. Then it started, all at once, like a big marching band of laughing people."

(Here's that big marching band of laughing people,
illustrated by clever Matthew Cordell.)
Our poor narrator can't imagine facing his class again, so he decides to drop out. He'll miss his friends and recess and a few other things, but he's got a plan to stay at home, work on his jump shot, get a job. You can tell this plan doesn't sit right with him, so he goes to soccer practice anyway. He sees his best friend Tyler, who acts like everything is normal.

Like the good best friend he is, Tyler listens to the plan and decides to drop out, too. "Awesome," Tyler says. "It'll be great! We can work on our junk shots."

Our narrator stifles a giggle. He tries not to laugh, but can't help it. Suddenly, he's smiling big and explaining to Tyler what is so funny--Tyler said junk shot, not jump shot. Tyler stands there for a second, but you know what he does next?

He laughs. At himself! Then they laugh together.

The boys decide to work on their junk shots tomorrow at recess, and show them to Ms. Morgan...er, Mommy.

Great, great, great message: That we all make some silly, embarrassing mistakes from time to time. And while we want to shrivel up and disappear or pretend like it didn't happen or invent a time machine to go back and undo it, it's easier and best to not take ourselves too seriously and laugh a little with ourselves.

(We parents can lead by example here!)

Super quick story in my own life of saying "Mom" when I shouldn't have: On my very first night of college during a super cool, freshmen-only retreat, I was sleeping in a bunkhouse with about 20 other freshmen girls. In the middle of the night I had a dream and yelled, "MOM!" loudly. In a shocking moment of maturity, I admitted it was me when a couple girls asked about it the next morning, and I laughed along with them. I was known as the girl who yelled for her Mom for a few weeks, then everyone forgot about it. Like people always do (though, at the time, it doesn't seem like that'll ever happen).

Again, fantastic book--and so very pertinent! Let's bolster our kids with the confidence in knowing that they can get over embarrassing stuff now, when they're young, so they can handle embarrassing stuff on their own in the future. Because we all know that, like it or not, embarrassing stuff continues to happen!

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