There are very real perks to, as an Orono Public Library
volunteer, being considered belonging exclusively to the children's
1) Our creative, cheerful, energetic professional children's librarian
never has to discover her inner pit bull.
2) The people who bring their children to library care deeply about
RSU 26 schools. They know I'm on board and give me very valuable
3) I see what kids are actually reading which is often different from
what parents and teachers wish they were reading. It has them
motivated to read. In light of today's many electronic distractions,
that has merit in and of itself.
Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series volumes become
battered quite rapidly. Recently I became curious about their appeal
and borrowed a few. They're funny, but more than funny. Greg, the
young protagonist, lives through the experiences and nightmares of
many kids his age.
First there's the family. Greg's father is always pushing him
to be more manly and involved in sports. His mother is perpetually
trying to schedule family time and bonding, often of the father-son
kind. His older brother bullies him. His younger brother gets
everything he wants.
Greg's best friend is socially inept. The girl he has a crush
on is unapproachable. Think Charlie Brown and the little red haired
girl. Non family adults like teachers are clueless and/or
malevolent. Classmates are often mean.
The many line drawings complement the text beautifully. One
shows the family in the car. Little brother, Manny, is screaming his
head off. Big brother, Rodrick, the instigator, is smirking. Mom and
Dad look ready to do anything to stop the racket. This does not bode
well for Greg.
Shapespeare--nope. Worth at least trying--definitely.
On a personal note, when I was a child there was also a gap between
literature and fun reading. My peers and I devoured comic books.
Parental disapproval and teacher confiscation made them all the more
precious. My mom, being a college English professor, set a higher bar
than most mothers. Only the classics met her standards. I had to
spend my own money on Nancy Drew books which became for quite awhile
the focus of my reading and daydreams.
A great big shout out goes out to Renee, our superintendent's
administrative assistant, who can translate the often chaotic
proceedings that are board meetings into organized, comprehensible
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