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ME AND ROLLY MALOO by Janet S. Wong

ME AND ROLLY MALOO

By Janet S. Wong (Author) , Elizabeth Buttler (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: July 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58089-158-5
Publisher: Charlesbridge

This innovative chapter book from a seasoned author delivers two parallel stories. During a fourth-grade math test, popular Rolly Maloo passes notes to math whiz Jenna Lee, seeking answers to tough questions. Interspersed with Jenna’s straightforward account of a common dilemma is a sophisticated tale in graphic-novel format that places Jenna’s story in a broader context. High-stakes testing, cash-strapped schools, principals and teachers vulnerable to pressure from politically savvy parents—all of these elements play roles. The contrast of economically disadvantaged, working moms with their affluent stay-at-home counterparts—treating the PTA as their private preserve, passing their sense of entitlement and ruthless ambition on to their children—is brutal and at times cynical. Much of this, along with Buttler’s slyly revelatory illustrations, likely will sail over young heads. How adults influence children’s classroom decisions is a legitimate topic, but the format is too short for nuance. Good and evil appear in vivid detail; shades of gray, not so much. Despite its flaws, this moral fable opens an important cultural conversation about privilege, a rarity in stories for children. (Graphic hybrid. 7-10)