Books show change in ideal for boys

Book List

February 23, 2000|By Tricia Bishop

Crying is for sissies. You throw like a girl. These statements and others we heard as kids suggest that being a girl is less than ideal and that to be an ideal little boy one must be strong and stoic.

Luckily, this is an image that's losing ground. Today young boys can follow models that emphasize strong friendships, cooperation and gentle caring without sacrificing honor, wisdom or strength. Kathleen Odean, former Newberry Medal Award Committee member, has put together a companion book to her first of must-reads for girls. "Great Books for Boys" (Ballantine, 1998) lists more than 600 books young-men-in-the-making may turn to for entertainment, encouragement and a picture of life that includes smart girls and sensitive boys.

Among the titles are:

* "The Adventures of Sparrow Boy" by Brian Pinkney; ages 3-7 -- A newspaper delivery boy turns superhero, flying through the air on his bicycle and diving down to perform good works.

* "Henry's Baby" by Mary Hoffman; ages 3-8 -- Henry's little brother worships him, embarrassing Henry because he wrongly assumes his friends will find the little tag-along "uncool."

* "Days with Frog and Toad" by Arnold Lobel; ages 3-8 -- Best friends Frog and Toad begin their long-read series with this book about their relationship and adventures.

* "Like Jake and Me" by Mavis Jukes; ages 5-10 -- Alex wants to be like his strong stepdad, but is surprised to find out that he has a fear -- and it's something even Jake's not afraid of.

* "The Pool Party" by Gary Soto; ages 8-12 -- Rudy Herrera, a 10-year-old boy living in Fresno, Calif., makes life fun no matter what he's doing or who he's doing it with.

* "Dog Friday" by Hilary McKay; ages 9-12 -- After a dog attacks him, Robin Brogan overcomes his fear of the animals and befriends a stray in this tale of friendship and nutty neighbors.

* "The Book of Three" by Lloyd Alexander; ages 9-12 -- This is the first in the fantasy series of the adventures of Taran, an assistant pig-keeper who longs to be a hero.

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