For the record, we had a night where the book elf was called and we had to cancel his nightly drop-off due to naughty behavior, which explains one night when I got a reprieve from self-imposed book reports. The other nights probably have equally valid reasons that sound better in my head. Project Runway All Stars just doesn’t look as convincing in print.
So a few weeks back, when I was doing my kid lit research and asking for suggestions, I got some great new empowered female protagonist recommendations. I think it’s very VERY important that we inject plenty of smart, creative, strong-willed girls into the lives of Team Testosterone and so I picked-up Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen. This is one of James’ new faves.
And speaking of smart, strong-willed females, I’m also pleased that Jake’s best friend Helen is definitely a bit of a tomboy. Last weekend Jake held his own as the only male invitee at Helen’s tea party dance party birthday party. He seemed quite comfortable being surrounded by princess dresses. But then he was sucked-into the allure of electronic ogres punching rocks. Helen’s older brothers introduced him to video games, and the finer points of negotiating which “guy” you get to be with a thirteen-year-old. Lately we get quite a few requests for My Little Pony, Care Bears and Sofia the First afternoon cartoons. But, our dolly, Baby Cillo, hasn’t been loved since the night earlier this year when Addison came to visit and in less than five minutes had pulled our one and only doll baby out of the depths of toy chest obscurity.
OK, back to girl power.
In a nutshell: Violet is a mechanical genius who lives next door to a junkyard and is able to build fully functioning airplanes out of spatulas and row boats. She doesn’t have any friends, except her dog Orville, and the kids at school like to bully her. One day she sees an advertisement for an air show that happens to take place on the date of my birthday. (It’s a bit uncanny how these fortuitous details keep showing up in the books I’ve chosen. Further cementing my favorite color, my birthday… all sorts of things I need to be sure to drum into their malleable little heads.) Spoiler alert: In the end, Violet doesn’t get to fly in the air show, but she wins an award and recognition from her entire community by saving a troop of drowning Boy Scouts in her latest homemade jet.
This book hits on all sorts of important topics including bullying, engineering, community service, and feasibility. The illustrations are super cute. Kids like pictures of people with bugs in their teeth. It’s still unclear to me if the bully twins are also in the boating accident. I’d recommend discussing this with your book club. I find the end of the story takes kind of a strange, unexpected twist that leaves me wondering if it should end differently? Maybe it’s just me.
Families can talk about: What is bullying and what should you say and do? Can kids really build real airplanes that fly out of household objects? Even if you think it will fly, is it a good idea to jump off of anything high? What could happen? What is the FAA? And with young listeners, is Violet a piLot or a piRate?
Illustration courtesy of Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen.