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My Parents Are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames, and Other Facts About Me Hardcover – June 9, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1–4—This story uses humor to help children cope with the issue of divorce. Ted, the quirky narrator, shares many facts about himself that he concedes others might consider "weird"—he has nicknames for his elbows, he sleeps with one sock on, and he likes to answer the phone by pretending to be a chicken. The one thing that he knows is not weird is that it will take time to accept his parents' divorce. He is sad when he thinks of them not being together and, while he enjoys spending time with them individually, he wishes that they were still a family. The story ends with Ted realizing that no matter how weird he may be, he knows that his parents love him. Ted has a believable voice that children will recognize, either personally or as they observe friends in similar situations. The colorful cartoons add to the upbeat nature of the story and make a serious subject a little easier to swallow. Many adults will appreciate this book's message and will want to use it as a springboard for discussion in both home and school settings.—Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Bill Cochran is also the author of The Forever Dog, which Booklist called an outstanding, realistic addition to books about death and dying. Raised in Palo Alto, California, he is now a creative director in advertising. He lives in Dallas, Texas where he also performs with a popular comedy improv troupe.
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Ted's parents are divorced, but that doesn't mean he's weird. Instead, there are a lot of other reasons that he's weird. Like the fact that his elbows are nicknamed Clyde and Carl, or that he sometimes answers the phone and pretends to be a chicken, or that he wears a cape a lot even when it's not Halloween. Sometimes he makes soap Mohawks with his hair in the tub and then walks around the house like that. He's done it at his mom's house and at his dad's house, and they both think it's a little weird.
Ted also tells us a lot of other things about his life, especially his life with divorced parents. Like how it bums him out when he has to leave one house to go to the other, or how he didn't like his new stepmom at first, or how his parents both come to his soccer games but never stand together. He even tells us how bad it was the day his parents sat him down to tell him about the divorce, how he still thinks about the divorce, and how it still hurts every night. But that's not the part of his life that's weird, that's just the way his life is.
My Parents are Divorced deals honestly with very emotionally painful issues, but it also sends the very important message that children in divorced families should not feel defined by the fact that their parents are divorced. There are lots of other things that give each of them a unique identity - or a weird identity, in Ted's case - that have nothing to do with what their family is like. In the same vein, both of Ted's parents are depicted as whole people with their own distinct personalities, including dad's mastery of making yummy burritos and his skill at helping with Ted's math homework. Despite the sobering subject matter, My Parents are Divorced ends on a positive note that encourages children to feel good about themselves no matter what their families are like - or how weird they are.
I was a little bit skeptical about this book when I first read the title, but Ted is a winsome character whose parents happen to be divorced and he tells the matter-of-fact changes that occur because they are no longer togehter. Sprinkled with humor and a boy's perspective, Ted manages to stay true to himself and make peace with the change in his life.