I picked up The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems because it looked like a good length and topic for my 7-year-old; I finished it last night, and I have to say, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, it was well-written–Ty’s voice worked completely for me–and emotionally complex, which is usually a winning combination for my second girlie. Ty is struggling to deal with the changes that come with a new baby in the family, especially with the comparative lack of attention from his mother. (Parenthood gave me an interesting perspective on this one, because I hurt for Ty exactly how Lauren Myracle intended me to, but I also empathized with his mother.) That coupled with some normal elementary school friend problems leads him to make some choices with unforeseen consequences; luckily for Ty, his family helps him straighten things out.
On the other hand, I didn’t completely enjoy the several scenes unavoidably featuring the word “poop,” often multiple times, and I was truly bothered by Ty’s oldest sister saying, at one point, “G–, Ty, what is wrong with you?” Yes, I’m FULLY aware that teenage girls talk like that all the time; I’m also fully aware that such an expression bothers relatively few people in this day and age. Since I happen to be one of them, however, its presence makes me hesitant to hand this one over to my 7-year-old. (If she chose it, mind you, I wouldn’t have an issue, although I’d probably note to her that different people have different rules, and sometimes characters in books talk in ways that I don’t prefer.)
You see? Conflicted. It’s not that I don’t have a 4-year-old boy who quite enjoys trying to work “poop” into conversations, but I’m not really interested in adding any fuel to THAT fire. What to do? There is a great deal of good here–indeed, it’s a great book–but I’m not sure how I feel about being the one that suggests it to my kiddos.
P. S. I’m heading to RI tomorrow night around midnight, so I’m taking a week off. My fabulous mother-in-law is coming to stay at my house so that I can go to my 20th high school reunion. Wahoo!