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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Name-Calling Week: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore by P. V. Lundqvist

Hi there!
Welcome back to another day here at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
You may have heard (or may not, which in that case...let me be the first to tell you) this week is National No Name-Calling Week

Normally this is the part where I would "explain all about it " but the official site does such a lovely job, pardon me while I allow their words to speak to you....

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled "The Misfits" by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the "Gang of Five" (as they are known) creates a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. Though they lose the election, they win the support of the school's principal for their cause and their idea for a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.

Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition, created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, and consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation during the week of March 1-5, 2004. This year, No Name-Calling Week will take place the week of January 24-28, 2011. The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities.

Quite a good cause if I do say so myself.  For more information and resources, feel free to click through to their site via the link above.  Now on to the review...

Today's title is again in the category of "little known" though it's been overlooked in my opinion as it's quite original with not only a great story on the surface, but bigger lessons and messages hidden just below (which also makes it a perfect book to feature during this particular week).  May I have the pleasure of introducing you to today's book of choice....

P. V. Lundqvist

All Benny Shoats wanted was a pet...well, that and a "normal" name (real name is Bengt...those in the know call him "Benny", those not call him "Bent") , but he'd settle for a pet just the same.  Seeing as though it's his birthday and he and his mother are visiting the Pet-o-rama pet store, he feels he has a pretty good shot.  Taking a visual inventory uncovers the usual suspects:  reptiles, kittens and every boys dream....puppies.  Now THAT'S a pet he could really have some fun with.  Teach him tricks.  Talk him for walks.  Feed him. Groom him.  Play catch and fetch with him.  Yep, a pup would be just the ticket to Benny's continued happiness.  Good news for Benny...he is in fact getting a pet for his birthday!  ~happy dance~  Bad news...his parents like to do thing "differently" and it's not quite the pet he had in mind.  Benny wants to keep the news quiet, but things have a way of coming out and the new arrival to their small town is enough to start more than a few conversations.  Will this be the ruin of young Benny's reputation or will it be the start of many life lessons learned that reveal what true courage, friendship, and love are all about? 

To say the story was a surprise would be an understatement as I truly didn't know what to expect when I first started.  I mean it seemed that all that was going to happen did in the first chapter or two.  Birthday came.  Pet came.  Unhappy birthday boy dealing with the unexpected present.  What more could happen to keep my attention for the next 150+ pages?  More than first glance would have told me that's for certain.

Okay, spoiler or no'd find out soon enough; Benny's new pet is a Vietnamese Potbellied pig. Now you see why he wasn't so keen on the idea of his new first. You see, Benny was picked on all his life most everywhere they went for one thing or another and although this little piggy doesn't seem ideal for the young man, they make quite a match by books end, teaching each other many a lesson along the way. He learns about responsibility (taking care of a pet is no small matter), acceptance (not just of his pet, but of others...even those standing against him), standing up for oneself (no matter how small....go piggy go!), true friends will always be there (and never give up either), and that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. There is always a choice to be made in every situation; making the right one is the tough part but it's also what helps us to grow.  Speaking of growth...

I bet you're wondering why I chose to feature this book this week, am I right?  Well, simple really....aside from the fact that I read it recently and wanted to share the bookish goodness, there is a school bully (Danny Doodlesack) within these pages that is guilty of name calling (and so much more), an offense that hurts the receiving party more than they may know.  Benny is given advice from his parents a few times on how to deal with this formidable opponent albeit indirectly since he is unwilling (perhaps unable to a degree....pride and all) to just come out and tell them what's happening.  Try as he may, nothing truly seems to work but the point is he tried.  Grant it, some of the actions taken were not exactly civil (boys will be boys sometimes...and take suggested courses of action to the extreme) but the intent was the just stop the unwarranted bullying from occurring.  As it turns out, Danny had his reasons for taking things out on Benny (it comes out in over the course of the story), but it doesn't in any way make his actions right. 

Moral of the story...don't be afraid to let someone know you're being bullied whatever the manner may be.  If they silence your voice, they've won...plain and simple.  Just hiding your head in the sand about the situation won't work doesn't often stop on its own.  SPEAK UP.  Let someone know what's happening be it a parent, teacher, principal, or other adult you trust.  You don't have to endure bullying in silence as so many children (heck, even adults) do.  You deserve to be you.  You deserve to be different (stand tall Bengt!), unique (yay for unusual but cool pets!), a 100% original version of whoever you are right now in this moment (go you!).  I mean really...who wants a world where EVERYONE and EVERYTHING is the same?  Say it with me now....b-o-r-i-n-g spells BORING.  Do your own thing, just be considerate of others as they do theirs as well.

In summary, a great book in both message AND story.  From the quirky cover art (did you see the little guy flying through the air by the title?) to the final scenes, it'll keep you turning pages to see just how this chapter of Benny's life turns out and leave you with a tear in your eye for all those suffering in silence in one way or another....but believe me, you will remember it.

Author P.V. Lundqvist
Review copy received courtesy of author P. V. Lundqvist.  (THANKS!)  For more information, feel free to visit his blog or follow along on Twitter.  According to his bio, the author is "...a writer and father...loves his kids, pet pigs and baseball -- in that order.".  Well, well, well....who'd have thought?  A bit of personal experience in the book perhaps?  *ponders*

Until next time....happy reading!


Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I forget how powerful names are to people when they are young. I think it's a great start.

LOL a pot bellied pig for a pet how cute

Shy said...

Such a unique book. I also love the messages that the author includes in the book. Most people would think that being silent will keep things from getting but usually the otherwise would happen. Such a good thing to be taught to young children!

Oh, by the way, I am sort of addicted to Zoo Borns's site (I access this site couple of time every day for some :P) and look what I found --> Miniature Piglet

With that dose of excessive cuteness, I hope you have a good day!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

No Name Calling Week is a wonderful idea, and thanks for sharing this book. I'd love a pet pig. Look how cute that picture is!


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I am definitely a fan of No Name Calling week or how about a No name calling world??
I was bullied a lot as a kid and it just plain sucked! Cute pig and cute selection to review. There are bullies every where aren't there?


Gina said...

Cleverly Inked: Yes...or at any age for that matter. On the pet pig, different for certain but smart little guys from what I understand. ^_^

Shy: Agreed on all counts! Thanks for the excessive cuteness...adorable picture. ^_^

Shooting Stars Mag: Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by!

Michelle: Here here! Wouldn't that be a wonderful place? Sad to say there are bullies every where, but ya know there are friends too. ^_^

The1stdaughter said...

LOVE the potbellied pig as the pet! Definitely unusual. And it makes you see how a kid that would choose a pet like that may become a target unfortunately. I love that his family was supportive and in the end things are worked out. Perfect choice for the week and another excellent review! :o)

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