Martin, Ann M. Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life.
2 October 2012, Feiwel and Friends
Nominated for the Cybils by Jennifer P.
In this sequel to Ten Rules for Living With My Sister, Pearl Littlefield has to write an essay on her summer for fifth grade, but it's complicated. Her father has lost his job as a professor, which has made life difficult for her family. The family vacation out west has been canceled, the family sells their car, takes the subway to bargain stores, and has cut back on just about everything. Her author mother is working all the time. Pearl and her sister both get to go to summer camp, but Lexie takes a job as a Counselor in Training to help pay for her tuition... and ends up with Pearl's group. Camp is fraught with the same social perils as school, and Pearl manages to get on the bad side of her best friend, JBIII, which makes things even worse. When the girls return home for the rest of the summer, Lexie gets several jobs to help out the family, but Pearl feels she has no skills... until she makes up with JMIII and the two come up with a business plan. In the end, Pearl decides that while the summer wasn't perfect, there were still some things to recommend it.
Strengths: This is a good, realistic series for older elementary school students. The sense of place (New York City) and characters are strong, and the depiction of a family struggling with unemployment is one that will resonate with many students.
Weaknesses: Something about this book made me want to see some more character development, which is not something I am usually looking for. Pearl is kind of annoying throughout, and I never felt that she really got the larger implications of what her family was going through. Again, not usually something I worry about, since students never come to me and say "There was a lot of action, but I didn't feel that the characters really grew at all." Maybe this was just for a younger audience than I am used to. I enjoyed the book, but was left wanting something.
Stewart, Sheila. When My Dad Lost His Job
1 September 2010, Mason Crest Publishers
"Includes bibliographical references (p. 45-46) and index. Contains a fictional story in which a young girl describes how she was affected by her father losing his job; and includes information and guided counseling facts and exercises aimed at helping readers cope with a similar situation."