CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 19 . . . . May 11, 2007
My Worst/Best Sleepover Party.
Anna Morgan & Rachel Turkienicz. Illustrated by Heather Castles.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2007.
122 pp., pbk., $7.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Ruth Sands.
It seemed like a great idea. All the girls in my class would come over and we would build our pizzas and then we would get into our pajamas and then the real fun would start. Oooooh, my head was filled with the things we would do. The flashlight games, the scary stories, braiding each other's hair. Maybe my mom would even let us do nail polish with her. Why couldn't it have happened that way? Why couldn't it have worked out as the best party in the history of parties?...
...I couldn't even look at them. I could feel the tears starting in my eyes and I couldn't even look at Stacey. I knew she was looking at me. I knew Paige and Melissa were all looking at me. I could feel them just looking at me. When I blinked my eyes, the tears just started to roll down on my cheeks. I didn't know what to do. I felt like I couldn't do anything anymore. Well, maybe just one thing. I could still do one thing. I could run.
While no one can deny that bullying is a problem which affects both genders, I really think girls encounter a form of bullying which is much more subtle than what boys deal with and therefore much harder to fix. My Worst/Best Sleepover Party is the first person narrative of a young girl as she struggles with grade-school bullying.
Rose seems to be a well-liked girl in her class. She has many friends who enjoy playing with her. When she decides to have a sleepover party for her birthday, she believes everything will go smoothly. She is quite crushed and confused when the two most popular girls in the class refuse to come to the party if Rose invites Stacey, her best friend. At first, Rose tries on her own to figure out what Stacey has done to upset the girls. From promising the girls that Stacey won't tell her brother anything about what goes on at the party, to trying to assure them that Stacey may be good at Math, but they are good at other subjects, Rose tries to fix the problem. The girls won't tell Rose why they don't like Stacey; they just say they won't attend the party if she's there.
In an act of final desperation, Rose goes to her mother and tells her what has happened. Rose's mother does exactly what the media tells us to do; she tells to the teacher and the school about the bullying. Rather than fixing the problem, Rose finds that the bullying gets worse and she is now disliked by more of her classmates for being a tattle-tale. The rest of the story unfolds as Rose and Stacey find the courage to stand up to the popular girls and Rose has her party anyways. She ends up with few attendees but discovers exactly who her real friends are.
Rose is a very believable character with whom any young girl will be able to identify. By using her voice to tell the story, we get a real understanding of the emotions of a young girl dealing with a tough subject. From feeling angry with her best friend for mysteriously upsetting the popular girls to feeling guilty about avoiding her friend, Rose runs through the very real range of emotions that bullying invokes. What makes the story really excellent is the lack of a perfect ending. The mean girls at school don't suddenly realize they are bullies and come to the party; there isn't a happy ending but rather a real one. Nothing will ever stop the bullying completely, but books like this one teach children that courage is the strongest weapon. While we may not fix the behavior of the bullies, we can at least let them know that they aren't going to push us around.
Ruth Sands is a freelance writer from Vancouver, BC.
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