Here's the descriptor paragraph on the back of the book Sparkle brought home from school:
"Football isn't just Tommy's favorite sport, it's the key to a good home. Recently orphaned Tommy is delighted to discover that his foster father, Mr. Powell, coaches Midget League football. By playing well Tommy thinks he will make Mr. Powell want to adopt him, and then he will have a real family again. This easy-to-read story of a boy's struggle for acceptance on and off the field is packed with enough warmth and sports action to appeal to all young readers."
Yeah, I don't think we're going to read this one to Sparkle.
I read it, though, just because... Well, I don't know why, but I did.
Tommy isn't a very good sportsman, though he's good at football. He's too rough with his tackles, sometimes on purpose, though the book doesn't connect this behavior to Tommy's loss. He's just mean sometimes, and his coach has to teach him to control himself.
Here are the last few paragraphs of the book:
"Mr. Powell smiled and ruffled Tommy's hair. He looked at Mrs. Powell, Mr. Powell, and then at Betty. He was so choked he couldn't speak.
Everybody's face had the broadest, happiest smile Tommy had ever seen. It was as if all the lights in the whole world were shining on their faces...
Tommy shook his head. A proud grin spread across his face.
'It's sure nice to have a mom and dad again!' he said happily."
Now, this was published in the 60s and I get that it's full of old ideas about adoption. But! This was read aloud to some of the kids in Sparkle's class. It's a "chapter book" and probably took them about five days or so to read at school. And! Is the school completely unable to afford any books more current than the 1960s for kindergartners? For kids who are just learning to choose books for themselves?
I'm absolutely willing to cut this teacher a lot of slack because Sparkle is doing awesome in her class, he loves school, his reading is improving daily, and I can tell that she really likes Sparkle. If you know the teacher likes your kid and wants the best for him that goes a looong way, right?
But still, I think we're going to have a gentle chat. And we'll head over to the bookstore to find some better books to donate to the classroom.