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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Shrimp and A Sunday's List

Oh my goodness. I just finished reading Shrimp by Rachel Cohn and am in love. This is the third book I've read by Rachel Cohn over the past few months or so, and I must say, this talented writer can create these loveable one of a kind characters, flaws and all. This wonderful book is the sequel to Gingerbread, Cohn's first novel, which I enjoyed, but the sequel, Shrimp, just takes it to a whole new level.

Cyd Charisse, known as C.C. in this book, is still the ever resourceful, determined, observant, smart, hip, match making girl from Gingerbread. But in the book Shrimp, she's comes onto her own and learns how to make friends with girls her age, lets her mother into her life, gets her boyfriend back, finds her strong convictions regarding the love of her life's parents and school, helps her friends and half brother, and discovers herself in the process. Nothing like being true to yourself. I highly recommend this book. Note: There is mature content in this book.

And now, A Sunday's List of Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature:

1. C.C. (Cyd Charisse), her mother Nancy, gal pals Helen and Autumn, and Sugar Pie from Shrimp by Rachel Cohn, ages 14 and up, mature content: C.C. is just the coolest girl. She finally starts making friends with girls her age, Helen and Autumn. These girls are smart and talented. They help each other out and cheer each other on. C.C.'s mother, Nancy, develops from a pathetic mother in Gingerbread, to loving mom who is a total pain but is really trying to understand her daughter. C.C. is amazed at new things she learns about her mother. Sugar Pie is just as hip as ever, telling C.C., when C.C. is worried about how she's gonna tell Shrimp about her secret, "It's a hurdle to get over...This is when you have to remember some people have no feet." C.C. is one gal who is true to herself. What a great book.

2. Cyd Charisse and Sugar Pie from Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn, ages 14 and up, mature content: Cyd Charisse, "recovering hellion" is booted out of boarding school. She moves back in with her mother and stepdad, finds a new boyfriend, Shrimp, and generally finds ways to disrupt the household. At first I found it rather sad that her one true friend, is Sugar Pie, a very cool clairvoyant older lady who lives in an assisted living facility. But, this friendship is very much needed. Sugar Pie gives Cyd Charisse the much needed love, kindness and support that is somewhat lacking from her own mother. Eventually, Cyd Charisse is sent to spend some time with her biological father. Cyd is a strong, independent gal who is incredibly resourceful. Good book.

3. Margaret, her mother, her grandma Sylvia Simon from Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, ages 11 and up: I was nervous when I finally picked up this book to reread as an adult. This was after all my coveted guidebook to puberty when I was growing up. My friends and I secretly had copies of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret circulating around, reverantly keeping up those bust exercises, giggling with relief when we read about training bras and periods. This book was quite influential in keeping us all sane with answers to certain questions we were sometimes nervous about asking our own mothers.

I really enjoyed reading this book again as an adult. Nothing like a flashback of preteen awkwardness to make me totally appreciate how much I need to be prepared to help my kids get through their preteen insecurities. Are You There God, It's Me Margaret is wonderful book for preteens who are dealing with their insecurities of puberty, friendship, faith and finding their own way to talk to God.

I admit to being a bit prudish with some parts of the book. Whoa, Spin the Bottle and Two Minutes in the Closet? And already rumors about a girl getting it on with a couple of boys? But then I look at the preteen and teen kids out there in my town, and think, maybe this is too much of a reality and I need to readjust my attitude on this one. But...do I really have to?

Margaret is the new kid in town and makes some new friends. She gains confidence as she learns more about how her body will eventually mature. She learns that rumors are not always true, that she has her own way of talking to God, and she is okay the way she is. She has some wonderful support in her own mother and grandma. She can talk to these two ladies and tell them about her concerns and they each help Margaret in their own way.

4. Sheila from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, ages 8 and up: Okay, Sheila has a rather minor role in this book, which is about Peter Hatcher and his problem of a younger brother, Fudge. This book is a great depiction of life with a pain in the butt younger sibling who just simply gets into all of your things because he has you up on a pedestal. Oh poor Peter. And his clueless parents. But. They finally make up for it in the end. As for Sheila, know it all classmate of Peter. Sheila loves being in charge. She makes sure she clarifies things, organizes things and wants to make sure she gets credit for doing the job right. She might not be the best team player, but she sure knows when to stand up for herself and when to compromise.


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Great! I enjoyed Gingerbread.

My mother hated Judy Blume. Just hated her. She never censored my reading, but I always felt as if I were sneaking cotton candy when I read the books. I've got to say, it was fun reading Forever with other girls while hanging out in the 6th grade girls' bathroom, but the book itself wasn't that tantalizing to me.

HipWriterMama said...

Alkelda the Gleeful,
Yeah, I remember reading Forever too with my friends. And I definitely remember the taboo feeling I had reading that and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. One of these days,I'll have to reread Forever and see what my adult self thinks of the book.