My older daughter came home from school and announced that a book fair was on, and there was this book she simply had to have. Nothing new about any of this. Scholastic Press has worked out a deal with schools; "Book Fairs" are Scholastic sales events that the beleaguered librarian usually takes charge of. He puts a few hundred books on display, takes in all manner of change and does what he can to keep track of the final sales. Profits go to the school's coffers, and I'm guessing Scholastic is making a decent buck from it all, too.
The girls know I'm a soft touch when it comes to letting them buy books. What am I going to say: "Do as I say, not as I do"? The best I can muster is, "Show a little more restraint than your old man and pick the one title you really, really want."
My daughter's choice was The Girls' Book: How To Be The Best At Everything. In fact, it hadn't just caught her eye but the collective eyes of all the girls in her class, so she hid a copy behind another title until she came back with the money.
I did the right thing and bought it for her. And doggone it if it isn't a terrific little bomb of a book for girls in the 8-to-11-years-old range. It's set up in an old-school Boy Scout Manual fashion, but is filled with up-to-the-minute good advice, and plenty of pleasant distractions besides. The reader is shown how to hold chopsticks, do sudoku puzzles, knit with her fingers, make a fake mess, cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope alongside such truly helpful chapters as how to study for exams, or deal with bullies.
My daughters take turns reading chapters to each other. And if my quick glance at the school yard is any indication, it looks like most of their friends are in possession of these handy bright red books. There's a book for boys, too, but I can't vouch for it. I only know girls -- and so do the creators of The Girls' Book. Highly recommended.