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Standing for Socks by Elissa Brent Weissman

February 21st, 2010 (02:42 pm)
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Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Back to You & Me score music

From its very first page, Standing for Socks got my attention. Before school, a sock-clad fifth-grader named Fara gets the morning newspaper for her family and accidentally gets one of her socks wet in the process. As she switches it for a dry sock, she realizes she's running late and doesn't have time to switch the other sock, too. She quickly jams her feet into her sneakers and scurries off to school, where people point out her mismatched socks all day long. Some tease her for it, while others think it looks cool. Before she knows it, Fara's sockwear accident becomes a symbol of individuality and freedom of expression - and, for better or worse, it becomes her trademark, which follows her into middle school.

Fara would love to be sixth grade class president, but she'd also love to be known for more than her mismatched socks! She wants to show her classmates what she can do and tell them how she feels about things that are going on in her school and her town. She worries that if she goes back to wearing matching socks, she'll offend the people who are following in her steps by wearing crazy socks and sending letters to her and to the local paper. Fara wants to be taken seriously, and to be heard when she speaks from her heart, not from her feet.

Standing for Socks, Elissa Brent Weissman's debut novel, is witty and charming. It boasts cute chapter titles and various plays on word "sock" without overdoing it. The phrase "Mount Saint Failure" was also a personal favorite. While both the kids and the adults are intelligent and with-it, their actions and dialogue also (appropriately) reflect their ages and opinions. Fara's transition from elementary school to middle school isn't easy, nor is it so heavy that she is stooped over by its weight. She is surrounded by positive, fun characters, such as her parents, a young, ponytailed teacher and advisor named Mr. Z, and her friends - bouncy Jody, accident-prone Phillip, talkative Vicki who tends to speak for shy Caroline - as well as those who would want to bring her down, like snotty Melodee and her equally abrasive mother, who is head of the PTA. The conundrums and conflicts are presented in a realistic way, and lead to a memorable first Sockinental Congress.

Standing for Socks will inspire readers of all ages to become active in their schools and communities and encourage them to stand up for themselves, and to just be themselves, no matter what.

Favorite Quotes

One of my favorite early passages informs readers of the charitable and ecological efforts made regularly by Fara's family:

[Fara] wondered if her family did other things that were different. Did other kids go through their toys every birthday and pick ones to bring to the Goodwill store? And did other families spend Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking food and serving it to people at a homeless shelter? She didn't know why they wouldn't. But then again, she didn't know why they wouldn't always turn off the water when brushing their teeth, either.

The following comes from a letter written in response to Jody's article about Fara:

"Don't worry about what others think. You are you and they are not." - Page 87

Isn't that the truth?

Read my interview with Elissa Brent Weissman.

Read Chapter One of the book at Elissa's website.

Related Booklists:
Set in School + Transition Times
Middle School Must-Haves
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!