Sheila Says We're Weird
Ruth Ann Smalley
Illustrated by Jennifer Emery
Hardcover, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-88448-326-7
9 x 10, 32 pages, color illustrations
Children's Book List
—United Methodist Women's Reading Program
". . . a great way to introduce kids to energy conservation! Ruth Ann Smalley, is a holistic educator who writes about green living. She won a Moonbeam Bronze Award for Picture Books for her book. Living green can be a tough subject for kids who are used to modern conveniences. But, it is important. And Smalley has tackled the subject in a fun way."
—Children's Books Heal
Moonbeam Bronze Award for Picture Books, 4-8 Years
"That's Sheila. She's rolling her eyes at the way her neighbors live. Sheila's neighbors don't use a clothes dryer. They hang laundry on the line instead. They don't drive to the library. They ride their bikes instead. Sheila's neighbors don't even throw away their used tea bags. They save them for the garden worms instead. 'Weird,' says Sheila. But there's something appealing about Sheila's neighbors' lifestyle, and even Sheila can't miss how happy, healthy, and contented they are. By the end of the book, Sheila has been won over, and of course, we—reading the book—have been won over long before that."
"Before I opened Ruth Ann Smalley's Sheila Says We're Weird, I wondered, 'Weird in a good way, or weird in a bad way?' . . . Maybe what Sheila is trying to say is that her friend's family has some old-fashioned values and habits. They hang their clothes outside to dry, for example, and they go to the farmer's market for the fresh produce they use to make their soup. They burn wood in a stove during the winter for warmth, and they use ceiling fans in the summer to cool things down. . . . I think you'll enjoy getting back to the basics with the inquisitive little redhead who gives the word weird a whole new meaning."
"Living green may be tough for children whose peers aren't schooled in eco-responsibility. The protagonists of this colorful book hang their clothes out to dry, eschew air conditioning, compost with worms, and buy food from the local farmers' market. Their neighbor, Sheila, isn't impressed. "That's weird," she says. The young skeptic is won over in the end, however, making for a book that helps children understand that as the Sheilas of the world learn more about green living, acceptance will grow."
—Sierra Club Green Life
"If Sheila can change her thinking, we can too. The 'new normal' is fast approaching."
—Mike Mercer, executive director, NW Earth Institute
"The only thing weird about this family is how much fun they have—what a lovely reminder of how easy some change is!"
—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Eaarth
Sheila is either hanging over the back fence or hanging out with her neighbors. They're interesting, but they're weird. Why do they hang their laundry outside instead of using the dryer? Why are they riding their bikes to the library instead of just using the car? Why do they mow their lawn with a push mower when a gas mower is much faster? But Sheila discovers that their homemade soup sure tastes good, that she likes picking cherry tomatoes and strawberries in their garden, and it's pretty cozy to sit around their woodstove in the winter. Are Sheila's neighbors really weird, or do they have some good ideas going on?
Ruth Ann Smalley is a holistic educator, who writes about green living, fair trade, and health for children and adults. A former literature professor, she currently homeschools with her two children in Albany, New York. They live in a kid-friendly neighborhood, where children run in and out of each other's houses and even the dogs have playgroups. Neighbors gather for porch parties, ice cream socials, plant swaps, book club meetings, musical jam sessions, and winter board-game nights. One family even hosts an annual August "Kid Wash," where children in swimsuits soap up and enjoy being sprayed by adults with garden hoses!
Jennifer Emery has been illustrating for children for over a decade. Her work includes numerous children's books: Christmas Gifts, Animal Alphabed, and Moving Day. She also illustrates regularly for the children's magazine Highlights for Children. Jen grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she still lives in a tiny apartment with her border collie, Butler. The two explore her urban neighborhood four to five times daily, witnessing many of the earth-friendly living ideas practiced by Sheila's neighbors in this book. Her website is www.jenniferemery.com
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345
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