Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee
Bobby has been friends with Holly forever, but now they’re at an age when the other kids really don’t understand why boys and girls would want to be friends. Holly has a new friend Jillian, who clearly doesn’t approve of Bobby. And it’s not as if Bobby’s friends are any more understanding. He and Holly are in for a tough time this year and it’s not clear if their friendship will survive.
Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) manages to be warm, positive about both genders and yet employs some of the gross-out humor that third and fourth grade students enjoy. There was nothing that I felt was over the edge, just enough that it should keep the attention of readers. It also has frequent illustrations. It would be a good choice for on-level third grade readers and for some fourth graders as well.
Great for: Exploring gender roles. Some characters are very much stereotypes of their gender while others go against typical gender expectations. Bobby’s father is a former football player, who’s now a stay at home dad and a “PTA lady”, but he doesn’t have domestic skills, except the ability to make heavenly cinnamon rolls. Bobby’s older sister is a much better athlete than he is, while his younger sister is into girly princess-y stuff. Holly is starting to act more girly now that she’s in fourth grade and Bobby misses the way she used to be.
Also, with Bobby being 1/2 Chinese + 1/8 English + 1/8 French + 1/8 German + 1/8 Not Sure and his best friend Chess being Indian, there’s actual diversity in this book. I was also thrilled to find that Bobby has asthma and that this played a pretty big part in the book. Kids with asthma rarely get to read about it.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – a pair of Bobby’s younger sister’s purple underpants get stuck to his outfit.
Profanity – “stupid”, “dumb,” “dunderhead,” “stinkpot”
Death, Violence and Gore – A girl gets accidentally scratched. As a prank, someone’s shoe laces are tied together making him fall. Chess had to go to his great-uncle’s funeral once. A pet dies.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – As preschoolers Bobby and a friend ate paste once.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.