Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stick Dog Gets the Tacos (and Saves My Day)

Some days are just tough as a teacher. Whether it's that all of the children who had the flu are back in school but still not feeling great, the fact that spring break is less than two weeks away, or the start of the new grading period, students were unkind yesterday. They were especially unkind to the study hall monitors, and I pulled two 8th graders into the library to cool their heels for a bit.

Both were failing every class, yet had brought no books or supplies to last period study hall. One's life plan is to work at a video game store he frequents. Had he asked the management if they hire people without high school diplomas? That would be a good place to start. The other was going to drop out of school at 14 to work in his father's business, which would be passed to him. He had not asked his father if there were any academic expectations, and he felt he did not need to learn math or anything else because he would have people do everything for him. He did not need to be kind to people, because no one would ever tell him what to do, and he would tell other people what to do.

I had another student who is very bright but also failing all of his classes; I suspect from conversations with him that he frequently stays up until 2 a.m. playing video games.

I am great with recommending books. I rock at helping with research and projects. I even have my successful math moments, if there is a moment to warm up. But parenting children who are not mine? It's really tough. It was tough enough with my own girls. They're grown, and even though I think I did a good job, there's always that doubt. Enough that I don't want to have to parent other people's children. A friend posted this article on Facebook, and I couldn't agree more. (Even though I'm a bit alarmed by the whole web site. A lot of articles about people seeming surprised that parenting is difficult. Hmm.)

SOOOOO, I was very glad that the Westerville Public Library sent the following book to me. Seriously, if there are people out there who don't have Stick Dog, they are missing out. Stick Dog is brilliant. And kind. And funny. And even if Karen (the dog, not me), has her reasons for thinking that Stick Dog is not very bright, she is so wrong. Stick Dog is more clever than all of us put together!

Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Gets the Tacos. (Stick Dog #9)
February 5th 2019 by HarperCollins
Public Library Copy

When Karen comes back from looking for barbecue potato chips in a garbage can and reports that a dog is being abused, the whole group takes off to save it. Karen says that children are hitting the dog with a stick. And it's in a tree. Stick Dog has his doubts, but the group is first distracted by the idea of climbing trees (all "those whisker-twitching, nut-munching demons (aka squirrels) would be practically extinct" if Poo-Poo could climb trees!). When they get to the house where the abuse is occurring, they realize that the dog being hit with a stick is actually a toy unicorn that the people call a piñata. Children at the house then proceed to hit a birdie with racquets, and the dogs are convinced there is bird abuse. When the birdie gets caught in a tree, the people are all distracted by it, and leave some guacamole on the table. The dogs discuss the fact that it is probably made of boiled, mashed green birds... and that sounds tasty. They attempt to try some, but the people interrupt and bring out a bag of chips. The dogs get a taste, but are interrupted by a taco delivery. These have a promising meat smell, and while the humans go back and forth between the food and birdie in a tree, the dogs manage to cart off tacos, and even figure out that the piñata most likely contains dessert.
Strengths: Like Pixar films, Stick Dog has a child level and an adult level of humor. Stick Dog is a philosopher, and consummate manager of his tribe. He understands that they are not very smart (Karen thinks she is getting taller, when in fact the puddle in which she is standing is evaporating on a hot day), but never makes them feel bad about it. He works with them on their level to achieve the desired group goals. Plus, there is food involved. And squirrels.
Weaknesses: This lacks the complete and total brilliance of Stick Dog leading his tired band of friends up the hill in Stick Dog Slurps Spaghetti, but really, Stick Dog has no weaknesses.
What I really think: I want to bring Stick Dog and all his friends home and give them nice soft beds and regular feedings of healthy kibble, although I would keep a tiny jar of instant coffee around so Karen could have an occasional tiny sip. And a barbecue potato chip from time to time.

I think I will check all of these out to 8th graders today-- maybe it will change some of the negative energy to positive!

1 comment:

  1. Tom Watson came to my school for an author visit last year and he was so kind. He encouraged our students to draw while he was talking and then he collected all their artwork and stayed after to autograph every piece.