The Just DREAM Committee proudly presents the third annual One TCS, One Book selection for 2019: The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden.
Zoey is different from her fellow seventh grade classmates. They're rich, popular, able to be in all the school clubs and, well, cool. Zoey, who lives in her mother's boyfriend's trailer and takes care of her younger siblings while her mom works at the local pizza parlor, isn't. As she floats in the alien sea that is school, she envies the advantages that octopuses have: eight arms to manage everything, strong vision, and, most importantly, the ability to camouflage. Zoey does her best to fly under the radar, but even so she wishes she could be completely invisible.
Then things get even worse when her teacher not only notices her, but wants her to be in the debate club. What could an outcast girl like her possibly have to say? Maybe, it turns out, a lot.
The book takes a nuanced look at issues from economic diversity to the gun debate to domestic violence, and makes little attempt to wrap anything in a neat package for the reader's comfort. The book is a thoughtful look at when it becomes time to own one's identity, even when it is uncomfortable. Despite her tendency to hide, Zoey is a spirited, engaging girl with whom students of all backgrounds will be able to identify.
It is a challenging book, but one very well suited to older elementary and middle level students. Younger students may also be able to explore the book with parental discretion and guidance.
PIck up a copy today and start reading! We will be gathering for refreshments and stimulating discussion on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!"