Friday, July 15, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book one hundred and ninety-six

Being different when you are an adult can make things complicated. Being different when you are child can make your life downright miserable. If you don't do ballet, or play soccer, or have the newest brand of shoes, you are given a unflattering label that follows you wherever you go.

Today's picture beautifully explores the idea that people who are different can be incredibly interesting and yes, they can also be very cool.

David Macintosh
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Abrams, 2011, 978-1-4197-0036-1
   Marshall Armstrong is the new boy in class and he looks different. He wears a tie and a straw hat and glasses that have the words Ray Ban written on them. He has also brought a ton of stuff to school with him, stuff that his desk partner does not have, like a protractor, various kinds of rulers, a pencil case, and all kinds of fancy pens. Then at lunchtime everyone sees that Marshall Armstrong “doesn’t eat normal food.” Everything he has comes in labeled silver wrappers. At recess he doesn’t play. Instead, he reads a book. All this adds up to one thing; Marshall Armstrong “doesn’t fit” in the school.
   Then Marshall Armstrong invites everyone to his birthday party. His desk partner is told that he has to go. He convinces himself that he, and all the other guests, are going to have a terrible time. After all, a boy like Marshall Armstrong cannot possibly give a decent birthday party. Right?
   This wonderful picture book, with its quirky illustrations, and its humorous narrative, shows to great effect that there are times when really interesting people come in rather strange wrappings. It is easy to judge them by how they look and behave, but you cannot really understand what they like until you get to know them properly.
   This book not only conveys a message that children need to hear, but it also serves as a tribute to all those wonderful and unique people out there who do not fit into a commonly accepted mold.

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