Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fiction Wednesday - A review of Dear Max

When I was a child most of the grownups I knew had no idea how to communicate with a kid. Or at least that is what it felt like. They had no idea how to listen, or how to respond in the appropriate manner. My father was one of the exceptions. He really wanted to know what I felt and thought, and made me feel that my opinion mattered.

In today's book you are going to meet a boy who develops a close friendship with a children's book author. They write to one another, and though they are very different, they are able to help one another.

Dear Max
Sally Grindley
Illustrated by Tony Ross
Fiction
For ages 6 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2004, 978-1-4169-3443-1
   Not long ago Max’s uncle gave him a copy of a book by the author D. J. Lucas, and now Max is writing to D.J. to tell her how much he likes the book. He also tells the author that he, Max, would like to be a writer when he grows up. D.J. writes back to tell Max that she has written thirty-five books and that she is about to start writing another one.
   The two correspondents, who are both having a hard time coming up with a story, decide to help one another. D.J suggest that they should both write about “what interests us most.” Max decides to write about a spectacled bear, and over time, as letters go back and forth between the boy and the writer, his story evolves.
   In addition to his story, Max tells D.J about his uncle and the new puppy his uncle got who “wees” in shoes. Max incidentally lets slip that his father is “never coming back,” and that he has to go to the hospital a lot. He thinks that these visits are a waste of time because the doctors never do anything to make Max better. He also talks about a boy at school who enjoys bullying Max because Max is small for his age. Then he tells D.J about his friend Jenny, who is behaving less and less like a friend.
   Recognizing that Max’s life is sometimes hard, D.J offers him support and her friendship, and she does her best to cheer him up. She is there for him when he feels very alone, angry, and scared.
   One would never think that an adult lady author and a nine-year-old boy could have much in common, but in this book they do, and they both benefit from the friendship. It is fascinating to see how Max’s very lifelike story evolves, and how he learns how to deal with his problems himself, finding the courage that lies within him.
   With a story that is funny, touching, and punctuated with little doodles and pictures, this is a tale every child can relate to.

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