Monday, October 14, 2013
Calli Be Gold
Calli Be Gold
Wendy Lamb Books, 2011
2014 Bluestem Nominee
Audience: Elementary School
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Everyone in Calli's family is golden. Her brother is a basketball star, her sister is an ice skater, and her parents are convinced that Calli is exceptional at something, they just haven't found it yet. What Calli does appear to be good at is noticing every little thing around her, a skill that leads her to Noah, a little boy hiding under the air hockey table at the ice rink. Surprisingly, Calli's class becomes mentors for Noah's class and Calli volunteers to be Noah's mentor. Everyone else is busy reading with their student while Calli is just quietly sitting with Noah under his desk. When it comes time for the friendship fair, Calli and Noah come up with an idea that describes their friendship, but with her family's packed schedule, it looks like no one will come. Calli is an amazing character that is a champion for all readers that are tried of being overshadowed by siblings.
I reacted very strongly to this book. The first sentence hooked me "The way I look at it, you can divide all the people in the world into two categories: the loud ones who shout about who they are and what they do, and the quiet ones who just are and do." I love that! I am definitely in the quiet category and that is why I am never on Facebook! True, I have a blog, but in case you haven't noticed, the books are the star here, not me.
Moving on. Calli is a good kid, an average kid, and that is all she aspires to be. That is so refreshing! We keep telling our kids and ourselves that we have to be exceptional, but what ever happened to just being normal, quiet, useful. Calli doesn't mind it. She enjoys her walks to school, her few friends, her simple life.
There are several themes are work in this story, but they manage never to compete. There is the main plot of Calli's parents pushing her to find a passion like her brother and sister. That whole family dynamic really takes center stage. But the side plots are very interesting, like Noah's condition, which is only hinted at, and the changing friendships since Calli will be entering junior high soon. Those are major plots by themselves, but since they are on the periphery, they never take away from the main plot.
And what a main plot. Calli is very observant and notices that her parents are pushing her and her siblings but are not happy themselves. This all comes out in the end, and Calli and her siblings get to start doing their own thing, which makes Calli state "I am sort of a muse. In my own way. And that's a pretty good thing to be." Calli inspires her family to slow down, have their own activities, and enjoy life a little more instead of rushing through it.
I loved this book. Loved! And despite that affection, I have to say that it's likely not going to score super high with Bluestem readers. Not everyone is quiet and those "loud" readers likely won't understand Calli as well as I did. Also, this is a pretty girl-centric book. There is talk of bras and boys that might turn off some male readers. The age group is perfect, but it doesn't have enough universal appeal to win the Bluestem, but I'm so glad that it is on the list and that I discovered it!
For a celebration of the quiet, average people, Calli Be Gold is perfect!