Starting middle school can be a challenging and frustrating
experience, especially for kids who are different enough to draw the
attention of mean peers. Elizabeth Mann's Little Man is a gem of this
subgenre. What distinguishes it most from the rest is its locale, a
Caribbean island called Little Scrub, and the characters who inhabit
it. We aren't in Kansas anymore.
Albert, the younger brother of two locally well known school
athletes, is the runt of the litter. Dressing for school on the first
day of dreaded middle school, he feels pitifully inadequate as he
fails to fill out his hand-me-down school uniform. "...He still
hadn't grown big like Ashanti, and looking cool like him was out of
the question..." Sure enough, when he gets on the school bus the local
bullies, members of a sprawling clan, chant "Little Man, Little Man,
you so small, didn't hardly see you at all."
Complicating matters, Albert's long time best friend, Linden,
who had a knack for defusing situations is not around. He's in the
States where his college professor father has a new job. In school
and at home Albert drags around lost and alone.
Then one night while helping his musician father at a barbeque,
Albert beholds an amazing sight--Mocko Jumbies, colorful characters
who dance and perform all kinds of tricks on 8' tall stilts. Much to
his surprise, one of them turns put to be Peachy, his school bus
driver. In addition to being a performer in a popular group, Peachie
is teaching a group of high school stiltwalking. He's willing to let
Albert join the group.
Could this be at least part of the answer to his problems?
Any kid who would enjoy an action packed coming of age story in
a colorful setting will find Little Man impossible to put down.
On a personal note, my mother-in-law had a 75th birthday party last
weekend. It was a very nice event with a lovely cake. Today is her
actual birthday. So...
...a great big shout out and wishes for a happy birthday go out to my
mother-in-law, Arlene Hathaway of Winterport, Maine.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod