Friday, October 29, 2010

Childhood Challenge: PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY

This month I re-read the book Trouble at Alcott School, which is the fourth book of the Peanut Butter and Jelly series.

From My Memory
When I first told my sister about the Childhood Challenge, I asked her for help in remembering some of the books I read as a kid. I was mixing up a couple of books in my head, their plots coming together into one jumble, and I couldn't remember either title. Luckily, my sister remembered more than I did about this particular book, which was one half of the mixed-up plot equation. She remembered the characters had names that sounded like 'peanut' and 'jelly', which led me to my Google search of 'peanut butter and jelly'. The only things I remembered about the book was that there was a locket involved and that two friends worked together to solve a mystery about the locket.

After Re-Reading
The plot does in fact revolve around a missing locket and the mission Peanut and Jilly take to solve the mystery of its whereabouts. As cute as the book is, it was difficult for me to get into as an adult reader. The dialogue and characters and conflicts are oversimplified to the point that the characters come across as flat. For instance, the "mean girl" of the school tells another girl that she doesn't like the locket she's wearing, and the girl with the locket starts crying because of that. It's hard for me to get back in touch with my inner drama-queen child to remember what it felt like to have my day ruined by someone not liking my jewelry.

I can see why I was charmed by the story when I was in the second grade, but now it makes me a little sad to know that I've definitely lost that inner innocence that comes from looking at the world through childlike eyes. My adult-filled cynicism got in the way of my being able to reconnect with this book.

Even though I know I enjoyed this book when I was younger, I must not have been as enthralled with it as I was with others because I never did collect any of the other books in the Peanut Butter and Jelly series. That leaves me wondering why...

I hope you enjoy your Halloween weekend--I'll be spending part of mine finishing up The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, which seems like a good book to read during a spooktacular time of the year.

Happy reading!


Shannon said...

I LOVE The Egypt Game! My friend and I even made our own up when we were little. Plus, Zilpha Keatley Snyder lived in the same town as me growing up (though I suspected it then, didn't find out until I was an adult) AND I wrote to her several years ago and she wrote me back! Amazing lady.

Jessie Sams said...

Shannon, you're the reason I got The Egypt Game! When you told me how much you liked it, I bought it (but then it sat on my shelf for entirely too long before I got around to reading it this weekend). The book was so inspiring that it made me want to start my own Egypt Game (even as an adult)--I at least want my own hieroglyphic alphabet. :)

You've also inspired me to think of my favorite authors and to write them a letter to let them know how much they're appreciated... Perhaps next year instead of renewing my Childhood Challenge, I'll start an Author Appreciation Challenge. You've got me thinking. Have I mentioned lately how inspiring you can be? :)

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