Saturday, January 08, 2005

Hi All. Just had my bowl of cereal out on the balcony watching some guys trying to get a stalled vehicle off of the road into the grocery story parking lot. This is one laid back island in most ways, but put a West Indian behind the wheel of a vehicle and he/she has the patience of a gnat. The horn becomes a weapon. The light has barely turned and at least two cars in the line are aggressively honking. And the honking is even worse if there is no way for you to get out of the way. And the bigger the vehicle the worse it is. The attitude seems to be - "get the heck out of my way or pay the price in damage to your vehicle." Now granted, there is the very polite honking that occurs, like when you let someone out in front of you in traffic, or on a blind curve. That honking I don't mind at all, but I sure would like a mute button for most of the horn honking on this island.

Well, I had my final Holiday fix by reading Andrew Clements The Last Holiday Concert. The age old tale of the music teacher losing his job because of budget cuts and losing his temper with the kids as well. In a fit of anger he tells the kid who shot the rubber band at him to take over the Christmas Concert, and Hart does. It is truly a learning experience for both the 6th grader and the novice music teacher. A wonderful respite with a cup of tea on a breezy cool Saturday morning. Clements has the middle grades novel down pat.

Reading this book and working on the Middle School edition of Tantalizing Tidbits has certainly reaffirmed my concern with the two year overlap in the ALSC/YALSA definition of young adult - ages 12 through 18. A 12 year old is either 6th or 7th grade, most often 7th, but still at the edge of childhood. The Middle School concept has put 5th through 8th graders in the same schools. In my humble opinion a 5th grader is still a child and an 8th grader is a budding young adult. The emotional and social concerns of the two groups are quite different. So where do we put a book like The Holiday Concert? The characters are 6th graders, so common sense says a middle school, but this is a book I would recommend to a 4th grader without any reservations so it certainly belongs in an elementary school as well. Publisher suggestion on the book flap is 8-12, basically 3rd grade through 7th grade. Okay, so elementary and middle school librarians will buy it. But, there is a big different between what 3rd graders and 7th graders are reading and certainly in their maturity level. Third graders are still playing with toys and 7th graders are playing with each other! In reality - I suspect the readership for this book is 3rd through 5th. At least that is the age group I would recommend it to.

Can't wait to sit in on the discussions at Best Books for Young Adults and Quick Picks at ALA Midwinter. Real people talking about books - how cool is that! :-)