Eleven-year-old Calli Gold is the quiet third child in a family of loud overachievers. In fact, the family motto is Be Gold. Calli's sister is on an ice-skating team, and her brother's a basketball star. Her parents are sure she has a hidden gift for something. They just have to figure out what it is! But Calli has flopped at everything she's tried. She sure doesn't feel like a Gold. Until a new person enters her life. Second grader Noah Zullo might seem strange to some people, but Calli can't help liking him, and they become partners in their school's Peer Helper Program. When they create a booth for the Friendship Fair, they fill it with secrets and surprises. And as Calli and Noah work and learn together, they even surprise themselves. (goodreads summary)
Calli is an average 5th grade girl growing up in a family of high achievers. Pressured by her family motto to "Be Gold" she is uncertain as to where she fits in with her family. Her mom is highly scheduled with calendars and post-it notes keeping track of every activity claiming that their life would fall apart if it weren't for her organizational talents. When the family has dinner, her dad requests a status report from each child telling him of a daily accomplishment. Unfortunately, Calli not only feels she has yet to find her proud moments but she is a disappointment to her parents as well. Her parents are pushing her to be successful at something but she just wants to be ordinary and feels that being quiet is okay in this family of louds. The family life is guided by be loud and get noticed and that being busy is a matter of importance. When she meets Noah, who faces a few challenges himself, the two begin a very special and much needed friendship.
In a society today of constantly being on the go and over scheduling, this story could hit home with many readers. Calli's family represents many today with hectic schedules and trying to balance out each child's activity, especially on the same day. This dad is a type-A competitive parent who shouts from the stands at games and video tapes other team's practices so his son can be the best. But Calli is not the only one trying to find a voice in the family. Her sister Becca does not tell her parents that her ice skating coach is threatening to replace her in the big competition with an alternate. She is afraid of what her dad will say of her not meeting the family expectations. Alex feels there is more to life than basketball and mom would like to just sit in the front window and enjoy a coffee once. It seems that everyone has trouble expressing their true feelings to one another. Their lives are in such a rush that no one takes the time to listen. When Calli befriends Noah, she sees in him what no one else does. An ordinary boy who just needs someone to understand his differences and help him try to fit into a world that makes him nervous. I loved the compassion and empathy displayed in Calli's determination to reach Noah in a way she saw that he needed. Noah in turn opened up and gave Calli the feeling of pride and accomplishment that she longed to find as well. By the end of the book, there are a lot of good character developments among the family members. Many parents could read this story as well. It would gently remind us to sit back and take a look at our own family dynamics and what is truly important. There is some talk of a girl wearing a bra and some boys in the class chanting "u-ter-us "and thinking this is quite funny when the teacher mentions an upcoming health class. Other than that, it is mild and mainly focuses on finding your sense of place, speaking up for yourself, compassion and remembering that rewards can come in small packages instead of an award or trophy. I think this is a just right book for 6th grade and up.~
Title: Calli Be Gold
Author: Michelle Weber Hurwitz
Pub. Date: April 2011, Wendy Lamb Books
Hardcover, 198 pgs.