This is the time of year to pull out my favorite beach books for library story time. The beach offers perfect picture book material: sand, swimming, sun, snacks, plenty of chance for mishap (seaweed! tide coming in! crab bit my toe!), and easy breezy rhymes. Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion is a perennial favorite; still fresh nearly 40 years after publication, and there are plenty more good beach books out there.
But year after year the book I reach for when I am planning my beach story hour is All You Need for a Beach by Alice Schertle.
I could hardly wait to get my hands on Panic this spring, because I found Sharon Draper‘s previous novel Out of My Mind, a middle-grade novel about a girl with cerebral palsy, entirely compelling and fresh.
Panic is a different sort of novel than Out of My Mind. Written for an older audience and with some mature content, Panic is most definitely a teen “issue” book, tackling both abusive dating as well as kidnapping in one stroke. The book’s central characters study dance together at the Crystal Pointe Dance Academy. Though they face a diversity of challenges, the characters share a passion for dance, as well as an admirable mentor in their dance teacher Miss Ginger.
Justin is the only guy in the group, and he is bullied and harassed by classmates for loving dance.
This piece ran as an Op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on May 12, 2013.
When Sandy Hook Elementary was rocked by violence on an otherwise ordinary Friday in December, my mind, like that of millions of other parents, flew to my kids’ school. I pictured the shooter in their hallways, threatening their classrooms. And though this was impossibly painful, what was not impossible was imagining their teachers, administrators, even bus drivers, hearing shots and running not away to safety, but toward the shooter to protect the kids–my kids.
That part was easy to imagine, because I see those educators every day.
My kids, 13 and 11, are literate and numerate. They are accomplished musicians. They have plenty of friends. They are resilient, tough, and unafraid of difference. Since kindergarten they have shared classrooms, recess, field trips, concerts, and gym class with kids who have a wild spectrum of diverse abilities and opportunities.
And while my husband and I supplement their education where we can, our children owe their accomplishments to public school.