by Judy Newman with Cristy Bertini and Alana Pedalino
I always make my new year’s resolutions in August. The end of summer marks the beginning of a brand-new school year with all its promise and possibility. When everyone heads back to school, for me that is a perfect time to decide what I want to accomplish and the person I want to be for the coming year.
Usually, I have ten resolutions. They generally fall into these categories:
1. Sort through and donate (or sell) old clothes.
2. Exercise more.
3. Eat healthier (read: limit my intake of chocolate chip ice cream).
4. Go to bed at 11:30 p.m. and get seven hours of sleep.
5. Make sure I answer emails within 24 hours.
6. Dust, sort, and re-alphabetize the books that are currently in boxes on the floor of my office, build new bookshelves with a stepladder, and catalog all my books into an annotated bibliography with complete information about each title.
7. Make a quilt from my son John’s T-ball, middle school, and high school baseball jerseys for him to take to college.
8. Sort through the many, many boxes of print (not digital) photos that I took out of the basement at the beginning of COVID thinking that sorting them would be a fun “snow day”–type of project for the two weeks or so we thought we were going to be out of the office due to the incipient pandemic.
9. Have dinner with a friend at least once a week.
10. Maintain a positive attitude and try hard not to complain and start every conversation with how busy or stressed I am.
My commitment to chocolate chip ice cream notwithstanding, I eat pretty well (resolution #3), and I do try to exercise regularly (resolution #2). But John’s baseball jerseys are still waiting for that day when I actually take the tag off my sewing machine and plug it in.
Since John graduated from college several years ago, the urgency is gone and the likelihood of this quilt project happening continues to diminish (resolution #7). The boxes of photos I took out of the basement in March 2020 are still waiting for attention (resolution #8).
Fortunately/unfortunately, Sophie Rae is wearing the T-shirts her own mom wore when she was a toddler, and this cost-effective vintage wardrobe is discouraging me from ever purging my closets since it's possible someone will make those old clothes fashionable again (resolution #1).
So as we head back for the 2022–2023 school year, I am going to prune my list of resolutions and just focus on #10: Maintain a positive attitude, complain only when absolutely necessary, and just like the Pout-Pout Fish, try to keep the dreary-wearies at bay.
There is a lot to worry and complain about in the world today. Scary, complicated issues at the global, national, community, and family levels come at us all day long, often unfiltered. There’s a lot to worry about and a lot to process. All of which can really put a strain on us and trigger some dreary-wearies.
Every teacher understands that a fundamental part of their profession (“The profession on which all other professions depend.” —Linda Darling-Hammond) is to create a classroom full of possibility, optimism, and hope for a bright future for all their students. At Scholastic Book Clubs, our job is to help teachers by providing access to a wide range of books their students can choose from to read and help them make sense of the world around them.
Once children learn how to read, they will be able to build their vocabulary and develop an understanding of words and language in context through reading books.
Our late CEO, Dick Robinson, used to say, “When children want to read, they drive their own learning, which can be many times more powerful than simply following along in a class assignment.”
From that lofty perch, I am happy to introduce the Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, with illustrations by Dan Hanna.
We can all go through the day feeling low and spreading our dreary-wearies all over the place. And trust me, as the daughter and sister of psychiatrists, I understand that we can’t oversimplify or minimize the very real emotional struggles we all—and particularly young children—can experience. But when kids can express their feelings and be part of a supportive classroom community, some of those dreary-wearies can be reduced and better managed.
Sometimes it just takes one gesture of kindness to turn someone’s day around…or to give someone a great idea for a story. Deborah Diesen knows this all too well. Years ago when her eldest son was a toddler, he was having an especially grumpy day. She tried to cheer him up by making an exaggerated pouty face at him. He smiled, and then he made a pouty face back at her. She told him they both looked like pouty fish, and just like that, the idea for The Pout-Pout Fish swam into her mind.
“Winning artwork.…Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Appealing.…The cartoon illustrations of undersea life are bright and clean and the protagonist’s exaggerated expressions are entertaining.” —School Library Journal
For David Vozar, emotional solace comes from his pet fish.
We’ve created some teacher-approved resources to help you share The Pout-Pout Fish with your students:
• Take a brain break to dance away the dreary-wearies with the Book Boys!
• Learn from a former first grade teacher with a decade of experience about how The Pout-Pout Fish is a perfect social-emotional text to use in any classroom in Book Talks
• Watch an exclusive video interview with New York Times–bestselling author Deborah Diesen in Behind the Scenes
• Download a printable activity in Cooked Up from a Book
We want to help our community of Scholastic Book Clubs teachers share the joy of reading with all of their students, so we also created special inflation-busting savings, exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to get kids engaged with reading, and the $1 Book of the Week and free resources on this blog.
Thanks for reading with us! Please reach out anytime. We are always available to hear any comments or answer any questions. Or share some resolutions or help talk through the dreary-wearies.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs