My Buddy Slug
Review by Molly
The tale is offered in the first person wherein the reader finds the little boy talking about his friends. "It used to be Slug, Kevin and me " the unstoppable three. Before long Kevin moves leaving only Slug and the little boy telling the story. "And Slug was everywhere I was. Morning, noon and night, on the bus, in art class, at the library. You name it, if I was there, there was Slug as well." Of course, the inevitable happened. When the narrator could not take anymore total togetherness; he handled the situation in predictable, child like fashion.
"And, I found it was beginning to be too much. Finally it happened, I told my mother exactly how I felt. What I didn't know was that Slug was there in the doorway." The narrator really wasn't trying to make Slug feel bad, it was just that the little boy needed a some time to himself. And he got time to himself all right. Slug wasn't around much anymore.
"When I did see him Slug hardly spoke, and I didn't like that any more than I did when he was there all the time."
I suppose we have each had a friend who is out of the ordinary. We have had a friend who does now and then, get on our nerves. Or, maybe it is we who is the one who just never knows when to stop, when to go home, or when to do something with another friend. Wanting to spend too much time together is a problem that each of us will likely face sooner or later.
Adults, generally have learned how to deal with clinging friends in such a way that will help us retain the friendship and allow us some time for ourselves, or other friends. On the other hand, kids often do not know how to handle such a situation, need to learn how to work out this important issue, and if not careful lose a friend they would like to keep simply because the best friend forever gets to be too much.
Writer Jarrett Krosoczka provides children an excellent tool in his work, My Buddy, Slug. Without becoming preachy, or insistent, Krosoczka tells of one child's situation with a friend who just never knew when to hang back for a while.
When first I held up the book; my resident critics gave it an incredulous, horrified oblique glance and voiced unconditional consternation "A SLUG! YOU'RE GOING TO READ A BOOK ABOUT A SLUG? A SLUG IS, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THOSE, SLIMY, YOU KNOW, THINGS" was voiced gracefully in primordial screech.
I turned to the first page and they, fourth grade, Wynona OK school, settled back to listen with as much open mind as they could gather together. The class does/did face their job as critics gravely. It did not take long before; the class was leaning forward, gazing raptly at the book and were noticeably drawn into the tale.
As I closed the book; the kids agreed little kids will like it, but they won't really "get" it. Each of my 4th grade students thought the book was a good choice for "mature" fourth graders as well as the little kids in the target audience, "because it helps us understand more about why our friends get tired of us when we are afraid to give them some space. And the little kids need to learn this too."
I got my chance to put to the test whether or not the little kids might get it or not. My first grade this year did not view the slug with the same dismay as had their older counterparts, they just thought he was cute. And, I'm please to say, that while they do not have the vocabulary to completely express what they are feeling or thinking, they also understood that a friend who is too much there gets to be too much. The first graders as well were able to verbalize the need for themselves to explain to friends, or, to be the friend who does, now and then,allow their friends time with others and time for themselves.
My Buddy, Slug is a volume certain to please the read to crowd ages 3 -7. The edition is well-built, packed with brightly colored illustrations and child pleasing setting. The work is a read with help for the strong reading 7s and 8s, and is a read alone, or an I'll read to you for the 9 - 10 year old set.
Once I had begun to read the narrative; the 4th graders lost all reservations about slug being a, gasp, slug. The first graders never had any such problems. As I finished reading; the kids, 4th and 1st alike, agreed a slug was perfect as a friend. Being mature fourth graders my class particularly enjoyed all writer Krosoczka's long winded slug talk sprinkled through the book. My first graders this year enjoy it as much.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for the personal reading list, and the school and home library shelf. My Buddy, Slug is a definite hit in my classroom.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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