Every Man for Himself
Probably the most predictable perpetual problem of teachers and
children's librarians is motivating young adult males to read books
that aren't graphic novels or volumes centered around the most viral
computer game du jour. Short story anthologies are often a great
choice. Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories About Being A Guy,
edited by Nancy E. Mercado, is an oldie but goodie in this genre.
Mercado invited ten well respected male authors to contribute
stories about being guys. Skip the already overworked cliche
situations; get right to the heart of lived life.
"We've titled this collection Every Man for Himself because the
truth is that there are always going to be times when you're on your
own, when no one's around to help, and when it's up to you to decide
what comes next.
Everyone knows that it's hard to come up with the best
solution. Good news is, all of those authors have been there...and
they're still around to tell about it."
Tackle the stories in any order you want. Skip some. Reread
others. In anthologies the front to back requirement is in delightful
In The Prom Prize (Walter Dean Myers) Eric makes a random
comment and ends up as the prize in a junior prom date lottery. When
the winner is announced he has a problem that snowballs. His father
announces he can't take a white girl to prom without a limo. An
acquaintance insists he gets protection. He isn't even sure he wants
to do anything carrying the possibility for procreation.
"This whole thing had started out to be a cool way of getting a
prom date, but it had escalated into about nine other things. I was
renting a limo because my pops had my representing the race, I was
buying extra-large condoms to show I was the man, and now I had the
whole junior class waiting to see what was going to happen..."
In No More Birds Will Die Today (Paul Acampora) Charlie is
caught between his unpredictable, hair trigger tempered, alcoholic
father, Chevy, (no mother around) and his imaginative, sensitive
little brother, Liam.
When Chevy buys BB guns for himself and his sons, Liam turns out
unexpectedly to be a talented sharpshooter. For this reason this
angers Chevy, who stops shooting targets and starts in on birds. Liam
is frantic, devastated. Charlie knows he has to do something.
"Meanwhile, I've discovered that I'm one of those people that
couldn't hit the side of the barn even if I had a cannon. That's
okay. Chevy's only two feet away. I put three shots into his ass,
and I'm thinking, Did I really just shoot my father."
Mo Willems comes up with something that isn't a picture book
featuring the pigeon and his pals.
And there are seven more gems.
The autobiographies at the end of the book are interestingly
different. They feature a black and white sketch of the author, a
listing of his published books, and the answer to three questions.
When do you think you went from boy to guy?
What's the manliest thing you do now?
Who's the coolest guy you ever met, and why?
You'll be surprised at some of the answers.
On a personal note, at UMaine we had an open house at Rainbow Resource
Room. It went really well. Crissi insisted that I take some of the
leftover rainbow cupcakes home where I used them to celebrate my son's
birthday. It's hard to believe my baby is twenty.
A great big shout out goes out to my Rainbow Resource Room family and
the wonderful, amazing son I am so proud of.
Sent from my iPod