Monday, May 07, 2007

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter, 2006

This child's exploits are in the vein of The Wild Things' Max or Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes. She is a "dickens" and a "scamp" who unrepentantly goes her own way. She staples her brother's hair to his pillow, glues his slippers to the floor, substitutes her favorite animal, the beaver, for George Washington in her school report, treats her mother like a waitress, and gets in trouble with the crossing guard for walking backwards to school--to just name some of the 17 things she is not allowed to do anymore. After each incident, she is forbidden to use that tool or that perform that action again (stapler, glue, beavers, walking backward.) She just continues to go her own way though.

Even her "I'm sorry" to her mother on the final page is qualified by her inspiration "to say the opposite of what I mean to trick everyone."

Nancy Carpenter's pictures are a wonder. She incorporates photos of items like the stapler and glue bottle and embeds them with her drawings. The cover illustration is perfect for a story picture book, literally foreshadowing the action as we see the girl's mother's shadow, hands on hips, looming over a slyly grinning child.

The fun of this book lies in the fact that WE ALL know this child. In fact, the young lady I know could have modeled for Nancy Carpenter's illustrations. This is NOT a cautionary tale, except for folks in her path. To them we say, "Look Out!"


Kelly said...

Isn't this book just great, Camille! Loved it.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite books of the year, Camille! The art IS amazing.

Saints and Spinners said...

What I loved about this book was how legalistic it was. If one thing didn't work, then maybe a variation would...

Camille said...

Yes, she is very legal minded, Good point. I bet she will be a lawyer a la 'Boston Legal' when she grows up.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see such positve responses to "17 Things.." Jenny Offill is my daughter and the vast majority of the reviews/responses have been very positive. I have found it rather interesting that a small minority of folks have been outraged that the girl "does not see the error of her ways," does not apologize to the adults (who of course know everything!) and is not properly contrite at the end.

"Boston legal" would be a good fit for the grown up girl; I hope we set her again in another Nancy Carpenter-illustraed book.

Camille said...

proud dad-
Oh I hope we see her again! She is a wonderful character! She has places to go and people to meet!

You know, educators and parents demand that students read between the lines and find meaning in literature but then they themselves do not.

Some people seem to believe that children's book charcters should always be one dimensional role models for moral behavior. The debate over what kids should read has been in place since Pilgrim's Progress.

I always ask kids this question: would we want to read about a child who is perfectly behaved, always makes perfect choices and lives an ordinary life?

They say: "Boring."

Most kids know (or are) a child like this which is why the book works. They understand the humor.

You should be very proud.

Anonymous said...

It's not such a small minority that object to the book. I challenge you to find it at your local Border's or Barnes and Noble. Even though it was promoted at the head of Simon and Schuster's Winter List. Available online or at independent book stores, but forget finding it at the chains. Seems like it's being deliberately ignored, in favor of titles dealing with the trenchant exploits of bunnies and puppies.