________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 17 . . . . January 13, 2017


Sign Up Here: A Story About Friendship. (I'm a Great Little Kid Series).

Kathryn Cole. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2016.
24 pp., hardcover, $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-927583-90-6.

Subject Heading:
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

*** /4



"You are looking at the first meeting of the Strong-Arm Wrestling Club," Kamal told her.

This sounded like fun.

"Where do I sign up?" Dee-Dee asked. She could do this. She had very strong arms from using her crutch to get around.

Everything went quiet. Devon and Shaun stopped wrestling. Then Joseph stepped forward. "If you can beat me," he said, "we'll see about signing up."

Dee-Dee was confident. She got down on the ground opposite Joseph and flexed her muscles. Easy-peasy, she thought.

It was! After five seconds Joseph's arm gave out. The boys looked at each other, not knowing what to say.

Finally, Kamal spoke up. "Sorry, Dee-Dee," he said. "But you can't join the
All-Boys Strong-Arm Wrestling Club…You're a girl."

Dee-Dee wants to play with her classmates, but she doesn't seem to fit the criteria for any of their clubs. Tired of being excluded for silly reasons like not having strong enough legs, being a girl, or not owning a pet of her own, Dee-Dee works with her teacher to create a new non-club that everyone can sign up for - friendship.

      Sign Up Here is the fourth book in the "I'm a Great Little Kid" series developed by Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre. This series is aimed to teach children how to handle difficult situations with confidence and positivity. Each story in the series includes a diverse cast of characters illustrated by Qin Leng, with each individual tale focussing on a different child dealing with a unique problem. In Sign Up Here, Dee-Dee is faced with the dilemma of being excluded from numerous clubs despite the strengths she knows she possesses. Determined to put an end to the pointless ostracism, Dee-Dee figures out how to solve her own problem, while also teaching her classmates an important lesson about the value of friendship.

      The message of Sign Up Here is presented in a clear way readers will easily be able to understand. It would, however, have been interesting to see Dee-Dee and her classmates take a more active approach towards signing up and pledging to be a good friend. When the kids sign up for the friendship non-club, they only express their plans to be better, more inclusive friends in the future. It would have been a nice addition to the story to show the classmates putting the friendship pledges into action by playing with other excluded children or helping people around their neighbourhood.

      Although the book doesn't show these principles in action, the concept laid out in Sign Up Here does allow children and adults the opportunity to brainstorm their own activities after reading the story. There's a lot of potential for conversation based on Dee-Dee's experiences with being excluded from different clubs, and there is even a guide for making and keeping friends included at the back of the book.

      Sign Up Here is a story that approaches the topics of friendship and inclusivity in a straightforward, easily understood way. Many readers will be able to relate to Dee-Dee's feelings of loneliness and frustration at not being able to participate in her classmate's clubs, and through those shared experiences, readers will be able to discuss and create their own pledges to become better friends themselves.


Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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