Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tall Tales

Day, Karen. 2007. TALL TALES. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375837739 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

“I want to make a friend,” states Meg, a sixth-grader whose family has moved once again and who continues to make up stories and fabricate lies to the people in her new school. Initially, readers may see that Meg is just trying to impress people with her tales. As the story continues, it becomes clear that Meg is lying to cover up that her father is an abusive alcoholic. Despite her surroundings, Meg is bright, loves writing, and friend in Grace Bennett whose family provides a haven of normalcy that eventually leads Meg to confess the truth about her father. Meg wants to believe that people can help, that telling the truth leads to a better life, and that she can choose her own destiny, but she must consider the option that ”maybe it chooses us.”

In her first novel, Day has captured an all-too common challenge faced by today’s youth. Genuine middle-school situations and a matter-of-fact portrayal of the harsh issues Meg faces at home will resonate with young teens .An encouraging ending provides thought-provoking hope without demeaning the subject of substance abuse.

Discuss the role of each family member in Meg’s family. How does the father’s alcoholism affect each person? What responsibility does each person bear for the state of the family? Provide readers with informative texts regarding alcoholism and family abuse for researching how these problems affect real families.

Other books that feature an alcoholic parent:
Bauer, Joan. BEST FOOT FORWARD. ISBN 0142406902
Friend, Natasha. LUSH. ISBN 0439853478
McCormick, Patricia. MY BROTHER’S KEEPER. ISBN 0786851740
Walsl, Jeannette. THE GLASS CASTLE: A MEMOIR. ISBN 074324754X

By Rebecca McKee

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