by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
I came in hot to a Scholastic Book Clubs strategy meeting on Friday. I was so irritated. I know everyone on that Zoom call had no idea what my problem was. I am sure they assumed I was aggravated about the presentation they were making or the ordering-patterns-of-Book-Club-customers data we were trying to analyze. But that wasn’t it at all.
It was all about my toast.
For me, workdays during the pandemic mean I pack up my stuff for the day—laptop, water bottles, coffee thermos, assorted books and papers, and whatever I want to eat before dinner—and head to my little space where there is decent internet. There, I hunker down for long and very productive days of Google meetings, Zoom events, and virtual teacher focus groups.
Our Scholastic Book Clubs team is operating in overdrive to try to keep up with all the variations of school going on across the country: in person, remote, hybrid. We want to be there with books and reading and access to authors and resources—and general support—for every one of our 750,000 teacher customers and their students as much as possible.
So, last Friday, I was headed to my office with all my stuff packed up as usual. Halfway there, I realized I forgot my toast.
Try as I did to put this in perspective and get over the fact that I was going to have a carb-free morning, I couldn’t shake the annoyance of forgetting my toast. It had really set me off and put me in a mood…“not a good mood.”
Throughout the course of a very important meeting on Scholastic Book Clubs strategy for the 2021–2022 school year, I was increasingly mad—at myself, at this meeting, at work in general, at my husband who wasn’t even home, at the weather forecast, at the pandemic—all because I forgot my toast. I observed myself being ridiculous as I spiraled into a bad mood, but I couldn’t help it.
My point is that people get in moods. And sometimes those moods are traceable to things that other people can understand, and sometimes they are not. There is no way anyone in my meeting could have known I was irritated about forgetting my toast. And writing about it now, it seems so dumb. Fortunately, I am a grown adult—and a reader—and I have the capacity to get over myself and express my feelings to dissipate my bad moods.
But what isn’t dumb—and something I think about a lot—is: What is going on behind the scenes in children’s lives that impact their moods? What has happened in the morning before school that may challenge a child’s readiness and ability to learn and interact with others?
Especially now, during the pandemic, when so much is turned upside down and every family in one way or another is facing tremendous uncertainty. Who knows—especially now with so much pressure on everyone—what’s going on in young children’s pint-size hearts and minds.
My experience with teachers is that they—you!—are the ones who know. Teachers know how to assess a child’s mood each day and work to help them express what’s bothering them (or making them happy).
Teachers also understand that we have to expose kids to vocabulary (which they develop through reading) so that they will be able to express their feelings and help adults put that in context for them and for others.
It is so tough for teachers right now to be there for their students. Scholastic Book Clubs can’t solve all the massive problems teachers, students, and families are facing, but we can continue to try to make the best books accessible for all!
This week, you and your students can find empathy, great vocabulary, characters who will become lifelong friends, and some mood-improving laughs in two Books of the Week by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds: Judy Moody Was in a Mood and Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid!
“[Megan McDonald’s] comical novel introduces the entertainingly mercurial Judy Moody. The book itself has a look as fresh as its heroine [and] from the start, Judy devises intriguing solutions to her dilemmas.…It’s hard to imagine a mood Judy couldn’t improve.” —Publishers Weekly
“Delightful full-page and spot-art cartoons and playful language in large type bring the child’s adventures to life. ‘Things are definitely looking up, up, UP’ with this bright addition to beginning chapter-book collections.” —School Library Journal
Judy Moody is often in a mood.
Judy Moody and I have a lot in common—other than our name. We are both older sisters, we both love to read, and we both appreciate the exceptional value of a colorful vocabulary. I’ll spare you my colorful vocabulary list, but here are some of Judy’s well-used words:
• Not Boring
• The Toad Pee Club!
• Squeenk! Ribbet!
I have known David Vozar for a very long time, and he is not a very moody person. (If he is in a rare mood, I can almost sense it without even seeing him—we are that connected! And he says he just has to look at my eyes to see how I am reacting to one of our Book Club projects.)
While David isn’t moody like Judy Moody (and me), he did try to tackle Mr. Todd’s “Me Collage” class project from Judy Moody Was in a Mood and shared his feelings here with his trademark cartoon.
This week, we were excited to put together some videos and resources to help introduce your students to Judy Moody, Stink, or both!
• Following David’s and Judy Moody’s lead, the Book Boys (Allister, Elliott, and Max) also create “Me Collages” of the people, things, and events in their lives that they believe represent who they are.
• Two teachers from Mobile, Alabama, offer some clever ideas for using Judy Moody and Stink in the classroom, including how to introduce a lesson on cause and effect. Get the details in this short Scholastic Book Clubs–exclusive Book Talks video.
• In Cooked Up from a Book, we dive deeper into cause and effect with a discussion guide and free downloadable activity to help kids understand and track examples of Stink’s and Judy’s actions and their consequences.
• PLUS: In an exclusive interview, author Megan McDonald shares Behind the Scenes details on how she came up with the characters Judy Moody and Stink, including how being the youngest in her family helps Megan write from the perspective of little brother Stink.
I hope these resources help you help kids get the most out of Judy Moody Was in a Mood and Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid. Plus enjoy some really good reads!
For my part, I am going to make a concerted effort to manage my moods…and remember my toast. And if you feel like sharing—with or without colorful vocabulary—your own pet peeves or what really changes your mood, please reach out to me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy reading! Or as Judy Moody would say…ROAR!
PS: Check out more installments in the Judy Moody and Stink series through Scholastic Book Clubs!
JUDY MOODY. Text copyright © 2000 by Megan McDonald. Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Peter H. Reynolds. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
STINK: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KID. Text copyright © 2005 by Megan McDonald. Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Peter H. Reynolds. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs