Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
By Jesse Andrews
Published 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
Audience: 14 and up
2013 Cybils Award for Young-Adult Fiction
I was pleasantly surprised by Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. My fears arose after all the hoopla around YA extraordinaire John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. I didn’t know if I had it in me to read another book about a young girl dying from cancer, or a sad young romance blossoming despite death. No sir. I’m done. But Andrews’ book was different.
Greg Gaines is in his senior year of high school. He has managed to avoid confrontation with anyone and friendship with anyone by seamlessly slipping between the social constructs of high school. He can wave to the jocks, fist bump the stoners, and nod to the goths. His only friend (or coworker, as Greg calls him) is Earl. They make remakes of films together that only they watch. He moves through life quietly until his mother forces him to hang out with an old childhood friend, Rachel, who is diagnosed with leukemia. Socially awkward Greg finds himself in the most uncomfortable social situation: entertaining a dying girl. Matters only get more complicated when Earl shows Rachel their films.
What I truly loved about this book is that it wasn’t shoving any life truths or lessons down your throat. Andrews’ writing style is humorous and the main character, Greg, is lovable in his self-loathing. It also made me want to check out some classic films. But overall, Andrews brings humor to tragedy with strong and believable characters. Earl was one of my favorite characters with his blunt attitude and wit. I hate to keep comparing to John Green, but the differences in their presentation of a girl dying of cancer is stark. I have heard readers of John Green’s books say how they wish they could know even one of his characters in real life. I feel like with Jesse Andrews book, you already know several people like his main characters. They are regular, flawed people and that made the book very readable.
A real shock came for me when I watched the movie. There were some subtle differences, but I found that I loved the movie equally as much as the book! I know! That rarely happens, but then again, Jesse Andrews did write the screenplay.
I would definitely recommend this book to high schoolers. Librarians, be prepared though. The book is full of cursing and swearing, and there is a very funny scene of drug use. Overall, fabulous and inventive writing from a book that could have fallen into the genre of an “illness romance” a-la A Walk to Remember. Jesse Andrews flipped the YA illness novel on it’s head and other authors should take note. (And watch the movie if you get a chance!)
Friends of the Knox County Library has a wonderful used bookstore. It is located just inside the Lawson McGhee Library branch in downtown Knoxville, TN. I have the opportunity to volunteer with them every month and thought I would give them a little plug. They have a bit of everything from fiction and cookbooks to LPs and CDs.
Here is a list of their pricing:
Hardcovers – $2
Paperbacks – $1
LP Records – $1
Books on Tape – $0.10
Books on CD – $2
VHS – $0.10
Music CDs – $1
DVDs – $2
Children’s VHS – $0.10
Children’s DVDs – $1
Children’s Hardcovers – $1
Children’s Paperbacks – $0.50
Children’s Board Books – $0.50
Magazines – $0.25
Sheet Music – $0.50
Can’t beat it! Each month they have a special promotion. The special for August was “Old and Interesting” and “Birds and Birding.” Go check them out and find yourself an inexpensive book if you’re in the Knoxville area!
Monday–Thursday: 11:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
Friday–Saturday: 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00–4:30 p.m.
Get more info at their website, here!
This Storytime theme was colors. We had a ton of fun with this theme and incorporated a game as well. Here are the books we read:
Yellow Is My Color Star by Judy Horacek was very sweet with lots of bright illustrations. It is a rhyming book as well and great for reading aloud. At the end it asks what your favorite color is and all the kids can yell out their favorite color. Maggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming was a very funny book where Michael dresses his dog Maggie. Each piece of clothing is a different color. The kiddos weren’t as enthralled with this as I thought they would be. They had a case of the wiggles during the book. On the other hand, Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin was a hit. The cute little monsters scribble across the page as they make different colors. Little Green Peas by Keith Baker was also popular. Each page spread shows a different color then on the next page the little green peas are incorporated into the illustration. It was very cute and the kids liked all the bright colors.
I decided to do a little game in between readings because four books might be a bit much for this young of a group. I taped different colored pieces of construction paper on the floor. Then I would say things like,”Everyone stand on the color orange!” “All the girls on green!” “Everyone on blue!” Even if the younger ones didn’t know all their colors they could follow the older ones. They enjoyed bouncing from color to color and it was a very inexpensive game to incorporate.
Our craft this week was very fun for the kids. We made rainbows with streamers on the ends. The kids could color their rainbows with crayons however they wanted and we glued streamers on the back to hang down. I got the rainbow template here. I glued a piece of construction paper on the back of each rainbow beforehand to give it a little extra support (which was definitely needed with the kids swinging their rainbow designs around to make the streamers flutter).
A very fun theme for the kiddos and so many book options! It’s a theme I will definitely do again.
This was a fun one! The theme for this Storytime was snails! We had a very fun craft this week with informative and exciting books. Here’s what we read:
The first book I read, Let’s Look at Snails, was more of an informational book. Each page had several photographs of snails in different locations with interesting shells. The kids really enjoyed looking at all of the different shapes and colors. Don’t be afraid to include a short informational book in your storytimes! Some kids enjoy informational non-fiction photographs more than fictional picture books. Then, we read Snippet the Early Riser by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. This was a sweet story about Snippet the snail who always wakes up earlier than the rest of his family. The illustrations are all on a stark white background which make the different snail shells stand out. We then read Slow Snail by Mary Murphy. This was a board book (not great for storytimes), but it was a bit larger than most and had very large font and illustrations that kids in the back could still see. This is a fun one. The slow snail leaves behind a glittery trail as he travels over rocks and boots, etc. The kids enjoyed following the trail with their eyes.
This was one of my favorite crafts! Such cute little snails and easy to prepare. All you need is an egg carton, tissue paper, googly eyes, and pink pipe cleaners. I went ahead and hot glued the googly eyes onto the pipe cleaner so that the kiddos could focus on decorating and I didn’t need to bring out the glue gun. Some bunched up tissue paper and glued it on and others laid it out flat. Here’s a picture of my sample with the prepped snail army in the background.
Well, I think I am officially caught up on my posts from summer stroytimes. Now, I’ll just be posting one storytime a week every Monday.
For this Storytime the theme was butterflies. The kiddos really enjoyed the bright colors in all of the books. Here’s what we read:
Before we got started, I let the kids look through the Eyewitness: Butterfly and Moth book. They really enjoyed looking through the different pictures of butterflies and how they grow. Then, we read Butterfly Butterfly by Petr Horacek. This book is bright and colorful. Immediately, the kids sat down on their own accord when I showed them the sparkly cover. We then read Lois Ehlert’s classic Waiting for Wings. This one is a bit difficult for storytimes because the pages are different sizes, but it engages the children. Plus, the illustrations are just beautiful.
For our craft we made Butterfly Suncatchers. I got the idea from the Raising Kinley blog. I provided them with construction paper cut butterflies with parchment paper in the middle. Then, I laid out different colored tissue paper in different sizes for them to glue on the parchment paper. The kids had a blast designing their own butterflies. Once they were done, I punched two holes in the top and put a string through so it would be easy to hang. Many kids were running around making their butterflies “fly.” I did not add googly eyes or antennae because they were pretty flimsy as is and didn’t think they could stand the extra weight.
This was a very fun activity and there were so many books to choose from about butterflies. I think I will do a caterpillar theme next Spring.
This Storytime’s theme was bubbles. Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of everyone playing with bubbles, but it was an absolute blast. Who doesn’t love bubbles? Well, one child, haha. One child was terrified of the bubbles. Anyway, here are the books I read:
Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere by Melvin Berger was an educational look at bubbles. It was a large format book, perfect for storytime (and a little difficult to hold!). The book is definitely dated, but it has wonderful large pictures and shows bubbles found in nature and man made. The kids loved it. Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett Krosoczka was more pirate than bubbles, but the kids really enjoyed the wavy text and illustrations. Bubbles, Bubbles, by Kathi Appelt was very popular with the kids. A simple tale about getting clean at bath time. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty locating books about bubbles that were not related to bath time. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments.
Before we jumped into a craft time, I brought out some bubble wrap to stomp on. They had a great time jumping and walking all over the bubble wrap and making it pop.
Our craft was a bubble blower. We decorated plastic water bottles and attached terry cloth washcloths to the bottom with a rubber band. When you dipped them in the bubbles, they made “bubble snakes.” I got this craft idea from cometogetherkids.com.
One little boy was terrified of the bubbles, which I was not anticipating. He took it in stride and eventually managed to touch one. I sent him and his nanny home with some bubble mixture that they could try and play with later. He comes back every week, so I know it didn’t traumatize him too bad! I will definitely do bubbles again though. It was perfect for summertime. I will get more photos next time, too! There was just too much running around to capture anything. Overall, a successful storytime.
I got to participate in the Friends of the Library Knox County Annual Book Sale this year. It was a great privilege to work with other librarians, past and present, and just some wonderful book lovers. I got placed in the “Science” section (don’t ask me why), but I had so much fun talking to folks and suggesting titles they could find at really cheap prices! I ended up buying a few for myself.
If you are in the Knoxville area, check it out next year. Or get involved with Friends of the Library! Here’s a link to learn more about Friends of the Libraries groups around the country: http://www.ala.org/united/
I’m a book selling super star!