Sunday, January 5, 2020

Review - Just for Me

Just for Me
by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Date: 2019
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

The adorable and spunky Ruby learns a new life lesson about sharing: "just for me" isn't nearly as much fun as "just for us!"

When Ruby has something special, she likes to say "just for me!"

That includes everything from her dolly to the colorful candy sprinkles she uses to decorate her cookies. But when a friend comes over for playtime, Ruby takes her mantra just one step too far, and a precious toy is broken. Just when it looks like playtime has been ruined, Ruby realizes that having a friend is much more fun than having everything to herself.

"Sharing is caring" has never felt so spot-on as it does in Just For Me. With sparse text and bright, bold illustrations, this is the perfect story for parents to share with their little readers--and for readers to share with their friends!

(synopsis from Amazon; see it on Goodreads)

Well, that was a little disturbing.

Okay, sharing is important. However, so are boundaries. Kids shouldn't be expected to share everything, especially their most prized possessions. If my friend grabbed my special tiara and put it on, and it got broken while I was trying to take it back, I don't think I'd appreciate my father blaming me for doing it on purpose! The message here is that you have to share when it's more than just you. (And then the book ends with a picture of the pregnant mother. Oh, that's going to go well.)

Kids (heck, adults, too!) need to feel like they have some control, and that there are some things that can be just for them. Ruby seems to think everything is hers (down to the bathroom mirror), and that could be a problem... but I don't like how she's forced to share her tiara and then scolded when it gets broken. There are just some things that don't need to (and probably shouldn't be) shared. Let the kid have her child-sized umbrella all to herself (nobody else is going to fit under it, anyway). Let the kid have a special toy that's just for her. Don't expect her to give up her bike for her friend (sharing her old tricycle seemed fine to me; why isn't that enough?). Yes, there's going to be an awkward talk when the new baby comes along, but forcing a kid to share everything is just going to breed resentment. If the parents can figure out a way to make Ruby think that the sharing is her idea, they'll be golden; if they scold and cajole, it's going to cause problems.

Now that I've analyzed the heck out of this, let's talk about the rest of the book. The illustrations are kind of cute, and will probably appeal to children. The text is simple enough that there's really not much to nitpick. It seems appropriate for toddlers.

I can't say that I really loved this. The examples of sharing are kind of weak (and if an adult reader is continually asking "Why does she have to share that?" then kids might do the same thing). This doesn't really do anything other than reinforce the idea of "sharing is good" without explaining why. And that's kind of important.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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