I was reading Ann Lamott’s book, Grace (Eventually), when it struck me that I was glad she was like me in many ways – just ordinary. That thought led me to my class this year and their connection to mostly realistic fiction. They love graphic novels of all kinds, but if they are going to invest the time into reading something with more text, this year they prefer realistic fiction. I decided to take those titles from my stacks of “to-be-read” books to see if I could find just one more book to offer readers in the last few weeks of school. I did.
If you connect with realistic fiction too, I think I have another book you will like – Marty McGuire by Kate Messner. Marty is not into girly-girl things. Her favorite thing to do is to meet up with Annie and go exploring as Jane Goodall would. That used to be Annie’s favorite thing too, but not anymore. And maybe, Marty thinks, they will not stay best friends. Marty is mostly okay until she is chosen to be the princess in the class play. She totally doesn’t want to do it – but with encouragement she does. She learns a lot about acting and about making responsible choices – even when someone else is being totally annoying and bossy. It is the beginning of a series and has much to connect with in the ordinary day to day of school
Just Grace and the Terrible Tutu is another great book – the sixth in the “Just Grace” series by Charise Harper – for exploring “ordinary.” Grace notices the groups of friends – the Fairy Girls, who play fairy at recess, the Giggly Girls, who tell secrets (about silly things, come to find out) – and individuals – Owen, who love special rocks. Everybody has a place and Grace’s is with her best friend, Mimi. This friendship stretches with a secret and a new neighbor. Grace turns out to be an amazing friend and all because of her super power, EMPATHY. Wow! If we could have friends like Grace, or be friends like Grace what an amazing world it would be. – hardly ordinary!
I am looking for “ordinary” in books with male main characters and I may have found it in Melonhead by Katy Kelly. Adam Melon (a.k.a. Melonhead) deals with a mom who wants polite, tidy and safe and a dad who is often called away by his work on Capitol Hill. In school he works to do the regular stuff, but also want to win the “REINVENTION – Recycling the Old int the New” challenge. Melonhead feels good about his invention abilities but as he tries to come up with a winning idea there are mishaps – the ordinary things in life. He takes an across the roof shortcut (not safe enough for mom), he gets stuck in a tree (lots of flashing light and rescue vehicles), and captures a snake that must be fed (neither the snake nor the rodents are parent favorites). Eventually he and his friend come up with an idea that might win, but so do his classmates. Some of their ideas are really good and Melonhead has to wait to see what will happen until the day of the science fair like competition – the ordinary nervousness of life.
Do any of you have recommendations of great realistic fiction titles? We’d love to hear your suggestions!