Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade -- Esme Raji Codell

I loved Esme Raji Codell's other two books.  Adored them.  I was really, really looking forward to this one--not only did I love the others, but Booklist had given it a starred review.  I was the one who actually requested that the library purchase it.

It's a collection of essays (more a collection of her memories, really) about growing up broke (never poor) in Chicago.  The description on the book flap mentions a story about Esme and her mom egging a fancy car and another one about staging a fist fight with her best friend to avoid her dreaded piano lessons.  Sounds great, right?

I loved the illustrations.

The text was kind of a disappointment.

Like quite a few memoirs geared toward the younger set, I don't think that this one will be particularly attractive towards the intended audience.  Not only because of the references that they won't catch (she explained some of them, but I thought she came off as pretty condescending), but because of the voice she used.  I just don't think that the reminiscent voice works well in juvenile literature.  I'm sure that there are exceptions, but for the most part, I don't like it.  It's fine in adult books.  Maybe it goes back to the condescending thing?  I'm not sure.  Either way, it doesn't work for me. 

There were essays that I really enjoyed--the ones on religion and education, specifically--but overall?  Pretty weak.  I'll still watch for her next book, though.  Her first two were so wonderful that I won't give up on her easily.