Friday, April 01, 2016

Guy Friday- Barbara Park Titles Reissued

It was great that Random House Yearling has republished these classic books by Barbara Park, who passed away in 2013. The new cover art by Laura Park will appeal to readers of Patterson's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, and will make great replacements for well-worn copies with distinctively 1980s covers. 

11278660Park, Barbara. Skinny-bones
January 26th 2016 by Yearling (first published August 12th 1982)

Alex Frankovitch is very small, and doesn't play baseball very well. He gets into a bragging match with T.J., and gets himself into a pitching contest. He doesn't want everyone to show up at his game, but can't really stop them. Alex's parents want to support him, but this includes making him go to the game! There are a variety of funny school occurences as well, and at the end, Alex wins the Kitty Fritters essay contest he has entered, and wins a chance to be in a commercial, filmed in New York City. 

Park, Barbara. Almost Starring Skinnybones
January 26th 2016 by Yearling (First published October 17th 1989)

Alex and his parents travel to New York to film the Kitty Fritters commercial, which ends up being much more work than he expected. Although the commercial only airs during reruns of Gilligan's Island, Alex attains some notoriety around school, and even goes on the local Amazing Mel show, where he has quite the funny turn. This leads to a role in the school production of a Christmas Carol, where he ends up playing Tiny Tim, rather against his will. In the end, Alex decides that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be,and is content just to be himself. 

Park, Barbara. The Kid in the Red Jacket
January 26th 2016 by Yearling 

Howard's parents have decided to move all the way across the country to Massachusetts, and he isn't happy about it. It's bad enough that he has to put up with baby brother Gaylord, but when 6-year-old neighbor Molly decides he will be her new best friend, it just adds to his difficulties, but his parents make it very clear that Molly has had a harder life than his, and he should be nice to her. He has the usual issues with fitting into his new school, but eventually settles in and is able to report his successes to his friends back home. 

These books all have a few mildly dated references; watching t.v., grandmas with blue hair, talking on the telephone and writing letters, and the whole idea of a local television show. I'm not sure this will matter much to elementary school readers, and I know that The Kid in the Red Jacket provoked some actual belly laughs in at least one student that I knew.

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