Friday, March 13, 2009


The intermediate years in a child's life are a time when children are striving to be industrious, and discovering what they feel "good" at. It's a time when the topic of what you want to be when you grow up takes on a new timbre of real possibility. Especially in these days of standardized testing (and over-testing), it's so encouraging---and exciting--for children to remember again that there is a life outside of school and grades number-2 pencils, and a time when they will contribute meaningfully to the world through the work that they do. This book is a developmentally appropriate tool for such imaginings; fun jobs like game designer, master cheese maker, pet photographer, kite designer, chocolatier, percussionist, alpaca farmer, entomologist and more are each explored with a brief explanation and several annotated photographs describing the nature or process of the job. There is enough text so older children will not feel scandalized by reading it, but brief enough to feel engaging and varied. An unusually helpful section of resources awaits at the back of the book, including a list of occupational summer camps (very cool adventures like the National Geographic Photo Camp and the welcoming Kids Culinary Camp of Vermont, as well as opportunities to explore law enforcement, work with the Humane Society, attend robot camp or sports camp or performing arts camp, be first mate on a boat or fly high with an opportunity through the Organization of Black Airline Pilots). When children want to grow up to be "rich" or "famous" and grown-ups around them may be discouraged about jobs, a title like this serves as a reminder that work can reflect personal passions and be a pleasure instead of a chore, and inspire readers to think more specifically, hopefully, and outside the box about the future. (8 and up)

Also of interest:
More help from the "help wanted" section, wild and worthy work submitted for consideration even for children who were left behind by No Child Left Behind.

THE UNDERWEAR SALESMAN AND OTHER JOBS FOR BETTER OR VERSE by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Atheneum) Belly dancer. Highway line painter. Pet groomer. Crossword puzzle maker. Queen of England. Ventriloquist. Skycraper window washer (Window Pain:/Ordinary words/Cannot express/My thoughts on birds"). Tiger tamer. Acupuncturist. Librarian (best job, xoxo). Maitre d'. Morning talk show host. This far more lyrical and far more imaginative junior version of What Color Is Your Parachute is less than meticulous about meter but promises kid-appeal on page after page. Funny, loose illustrations mix photographs and an inky doodle style. Several of the poems are real gems, among them: "Subway Driver" ("Big bunny tunnels underground/With folks who stare or read or sleep/And dream of something/VERY DEEP"), "Astronomer" ("I look for stars/Too fat to hang/Far out in space/That pop--and bang!.../The holes that swallow/starry light/Are big as day/And black as night"), and my favorite, "Mapmaker":

I climb up a mountain of fine fountain pen
I float down an Nile of ink.
I crisscross three countries, six cities, and spend
A while on an isle to think.

I brush in the valleys and sweep in the sands,
I shadow blue oceans, green seas.
I'm the very particular painter of lands
Who measures the degrees.

(5 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
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Unknown said...

Hi esme :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! My husband is a kids author & I will show him your site :)

AnnieMac said...

I really liked your comments about both of these books. I definitely agree that When I Grow Up sounds like a book that would be perfect for showing children that work and jobs can be fun and to get children started thinking about their future. The Underwear Salesman and Other Jobs for Better or Verse sounds like a great book to use to discuss jobs and to use poetry in the classroom. These books both sound great and I plan on reading them soon.

ELuera said...

Thank you for recommending these two books. I think they sound great to give to students to begin thinking about their future. These books could be great to give to those struggling students that believe there is no hope for them. They can give them a different perspective on education than a grade on a test.

Katie said...

I love your blog... and have given you an award! Check out my blog for the info!

library1288 said...

Hello! I really love your blog. I definitely agree about showing children different jobs other than the norm. Being a lawyer or a doctor is really cool, but there are other jobs than that.I think it is a wonderful way to expand children's horizons and future. Children have the right to look at the different choices around them. If they are really interested in something, love it and feel the most happy with it, then I say they should follow their dreams and these books gives them the opportunity. I will definitely remember these books when I become a teacher, in order to show them that their dreams are not impossible, and that these different jobs, no matter how different they are, they each have their own uniqueness. Children do not have pick only one job that is "normal" Heck! There is no such thing as a "normal job".


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