HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Sheila Says We’re Weird
Author: Ruth Ann Smalley
Illustrator: Jennifer Emery
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2011
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Grades 2-6
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Smalley, Ruth Ann. Sheila Says We’re Weird (published in 2011 by Tilbury House Publishers, 103 Brunswick Ave., Gardiner, ME 04345). Has anyone ever called you weird for some reason? Sheila lives next door to a family which she thinks is weird because they hang out their clothes instead of using an electric dryer, make much of their yard into a garden instead of a lawn with grass, use a rotary mower instead of one with a gasoline engine, have ceiling fans instead of air conditioning, save their teabags and leaves for mulch instead of throwing them away, go to the local farmers’ market instead of the grocery store, warm up with a wood stove instead of a whole-house furnace, cook their own soup instead of just opening up a can, ride their bikes, mend their clothes, use cloth napkins, and carry their own water bottles when they go out. But when Sheila eats their strawberries, plays with dolls by their fire, and tastes their soup, will she change her mind?
Author Ruth Ann Smalley, a former literature professor who homeschools her children, gently reminds us that everyone could live a little more simply just by conserving and recycling. Sheila’s curiosity as she hangs over the fence or visits next door is the perfect vehicle to encourage both children and adults in looking for the little pleasures of life. We don’t have to have a lot of modern conveniences and other expensive gadgets to have fun or get along well. Illustrator Jennifer Emery’s bright and bold full-page art is a great complement to the story. All people may not necessarily be in a position to do everything which Sheila’s neighbors do, but especially in this day of increasing prices and limited resources, each of us would do well to develop as many of these energy-saving habits as we can.