Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: One of Us

One of Us
By: Peggy Moss and Penny Weber
Published by:  Tilbury House Publishers, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-88448-322-9
Price: $16.95
Ages 5-12
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Do you know what “peer pressure” means?  Roberta James is late for school.  Two weeks late.  Her family had just moved into the community.  On her first day, she had put her hair up.  When she walks into the classroom, Carmen of the straight-up-hair girls says, “You’re one of us,” and invites her to sit with them.  However, when they have recess, Roberta heads to the monkey bars.  Carmen says that her group doesn’t go on the playground.  So Jasmine invites her to join the monkey bar gang.  But at lunch, she has a daisy lunchbox and all of them have monkey lunchboxes, so they point out where the flowered lunch box kids sit.  Yet, none of them eats pitas like the one that Roberta has, so she has to go where the pita-eating kids are.  However, they all wear cowboy boots, and she wears running shoes.

Will Roberta ever find a group of students with whom she can associate?  And will the other children learn that they don’t always have to be alike in every way?  One of the big complaints that I’ve heard of late from parents with children in traditional schools is the development of cliques and the tremendous pressure for kids to conform to some arbitrary standard in order to be accepted.  This simple but meaningful text by author Peggy Moss, whose award-winning children’s books include Say Something and Our Friendship Rules, and the colorful, lively illustrations by Penny Weber, combine to remind youngsters that everyone’s different and that true friends will respect their differences.  It would make a great starting point for an important conversation between children and their parents and/or teachers.  The Tilbury House website contains discussion points, activities, literature links, and further educational resources for using this book.

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