WHEN I GROW UP: A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO INTERESTING AND UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS by Jessica Loy (Henry Holt)
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 world...by degrees.
(5 and up)
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