Friday, February 15, 2013

One For The Murphys

Volume Three in the Books That Matter Series


"Be someone's hero." For twelve year old Carley Connors, this is a pretty tall order. Let's face it, for anyone this could be a huge expectation to have looming overhead. Though if you look at it closer, you might see that the potential to be someone's hero is all around you.

When I heard Lynda Mullaly Hunt talk about her middle grade novel, One For The Murphys, I knew I had to read it. But it was sold out at the conference store. Then, my book headhunter told me that she had read it and that I had to read it too. So I went to a nearby store and bought the book.

Carley Connors is twelve years old and a foster child who has just been placed with the Murphys. Told in first person, readers get a point of view told strictly from Carley, which is an important fact to keep in mind when first meeting the Murphys. In the beginning, Mrs. Murphy appears as a Leave It To Beaver mom for the current day. Mr. Murphy is a firefighter and hence the reason Carley must sleep in a firefighter themed room complete with a fire truck bed and a sign above it that reads: "Be someone's hero." Daniel is the oldest of the three Murphy boys and the only one of his brothers who dislikes having Carley in his life. Adam and Michael Eric are the two younger boys who offer some comic relief.  Then, throw in a musical loving girl named Toni, who goes to school with Carley, and you have the makings of a great cast of characters.

One of the interesting things about Carley is that she thinks of words in a different way than most people. For example, when she fist introduces herself to readers she is looking at a hospital bracelet with her name on it. "Carley Connors. Thirteen letters. How unlucky can one person be?" Later, there are chapters titled "Lettuce Pray" and "Pals Spelled Backwards." This play on words is fun but also offers some great insight into Carley's character.

But the thing that stands out the most about this story, the one that still remains with me now even though it has been ten months since I have read it, is the message to "be someone's hero." It resonated with me to the point where I wanted to use this message with the students in my classroom. So I asked them to name anyone they thought was a hero. Of course, superheroes and fictional characters were listed right off the bat and all of those went into one column on our list. Then, there were professions in another column. The students listed police officers, firefighters, those in the military, doctors, teachers, utility workers, and so on. The next column was for specific individuals who work in these professions. Someone's parent might have been a firefighter, teacher, or doctor. The list grew from the abstract and fictional to the concrete and real. Normal, everyday people can be heroes. And in return, you might be that person for someone else.

This is my opinion For What It Is Worth. If you are looking for ways to "Be Someone's Hero," consider donating to Big Brother, Big Sisters. Visit bbbs.org  for more information.

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