Sunday, January 18, 2009

Free To Be You and Me

Thomas, Marlo. 2008. FREE TO BE YOU AND ME: 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION. Running Press. 129 pages.

Apparently, FREE TO BE YOU AND ME is a bestselling classic from the seventies that I was clueless about*. Then again, I was more of a kid of the eighties so maybe it isn't that surprising. The book has been updated and newly published. What has changed with this release is the artwork or the illustrations.

The book features many things--it's like a variety show--there are poems, songs, comedy sketches, short stories, etc. Chances are you'll find pieces that you love, pieces that you like, and others that you'd just as soon not repeat.

In a way, I think Free To Be You and Me is a product of its time**: addressing gender, race, and other society-concerns. The book focuses on equality--especially equality between the sexes. Gender roles are tackled and deconstructed and then some. When books like "William's Doll" would have been more shocking and controversial perhaps. (There's also a story about divorce, "Zachary's Divorce.") But in other ways, there are elements of the book that are timeless.

*According to wikipedia, it was a record and songbook (1972) and later a television special (1974).
**There are bits that feel a little after-school special-ey. Which isn't a bad thing. It's okay to embrace nostalgia.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I noticed this book at the library today and wondered about it. Ta dah here's a reliable review. I'll give it a pass. Thanks!