Friday, March 13, 2009

E-BOOK WEEK: Totally Uncool

Description of the book from a fan:

"The story is simple, but the issues complex: How do you accept your Daddy's new girlfriend?
Janice Levy and Chris Monroe's "Totally Uncool" doesn't tell what happened to the unnamed girl's mother, but this makes the ambiguous situation even more widely applicable. The girl, who looks around 6 or 7 years old, objects to Daddy's newest girlfriend--the one he calls "Sweet Potato." She keeps looking for something to criticize, even relatively minor differences: "She doesn't play soccer. Or work out in a gym. Video games? She hasn't a clue." Then there are the slight idiosyncrasies that accompany almost any person: "She plays the tuba"...."Falls asleep sitting up"...."Her hair is porcupine"..."She sings opera to her goldfish." These observations supply much of the book's gentle humor. Midway through the book, the girl begins to recognize and accept Sweet Potato's kind ways and understanding nature: "She listens to me without the TV on. Keeps my secrets secret..." "Lets me slam doors when things aren't fair. She never calls me stupid." "She doesn't yell when I forget things. Or drop things. Well, maybe just a little." On the last page, the daughter humanizes her by telling us her real name ("Elizabeth") and, smiling, concedes "Maybe there's hope for her yet." The book shows and normalizes the difficulties inherent in such situations. Kids may see that their resentful feelings are natural, but that they can be balanced by the new adult's (sometimes overlooked) good qualities. The new adult can see the situation from the child's view, and may get some perspective on respecting each other's boundaries and providing emotional support. But "Totally Uncool" is not just for family situations such as this one. It shows that it's not always easy to build a friendship, and that one must try to balance the newcomer's seemingly "uncool" surface characteristics with an appreciation of that person's deeper, more fundamental nature. Monroe's informal, "crayonish" illustrations keep thing light and underscore the narrative child-centered perspective. This is an excellent book that skillfully and lightly explores the evolving adjustment to the family newcomer.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
This is a wonderful book for stepmom & stepdaughter to read!, October 25, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Totally Uncool (Picture Books) (Library Binding) This is a wonderful book for a stepmom to sit down and read with a stepdaughter. The stepdaughter in this book really doesn't seem to care for her new stepmom at all, until she realizes towards the end that "Sweet Potato" (as her father fondly calls her) is really quite a cool stepmom after all. This book deals with the stepchildrens feelings surrounding acceptance of the stepmom. It doesn't push the child emotionally but gently guides them to a better place emotionally with regards to their stepparent. It also helps to debunk the myth surrounding the "stepmom"as mean, or evil. Children who may have loyalty issues or fears would definitely benefit from this book. "Totally Uncool" also dispells the stereotypical mental image of the stepmom! "Sweet Potato" has porcupiny hair, wears sneakers with skirts, plays the tuba, sings opera, and claps the loudest at the school plays.
This might be a nice holiday gift for any stepdaughter.
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