Looking for Me: ...in This Great Big Family

Looking for Me: ...in This Great Big Family

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One of twelve siblings growing up in Depression-era Baltimore, Edith isn’t quite sure of who she is. Between working at her father’s diner, taking care of her younger siblings, and living in the shadow of her more mature sisters, she feels lost in a sea of siblings. When a kind teacher encourages Edith to be a teacher herself one day, Edith sees prospects for a future all her own. Full of joy, pain, humor, and sadness, this novel in verse is an enduring portrait of one family’s pursuit of the American dream.

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  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544022713

  • ISBN-10: 0544022718

  • Pages: 176

  • Price: $7.99

  • Publication Date: 09/10/2013

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 10,11,12

  • Grade(s): 5-7

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 1130L

Betsy R. Rosenthal

Betsy R. Rosenthal

Before she began writing children’s books, Betsy Rosenthal was a lawyer for a national civil rights agency. She left that career behind to raise her three children and concentrate on her writing. She is the author of three picture books: My House Is Singing, It’s Not Worth Making a Tzimmes Over!, and Which Shoes Would You Choose? Looking for Me is her first novel.Ms. Rosenthal has also had many essays published in national and local newspapers and magazines. To learn more about Ms. Rosenthal, you can visit her at www.BetsyRosenthal.com.
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  • reviews

    "Rosenthal's spare writing superbly captures the emotional growth of a girl on the cusp of adolescence, despite its specific historical context."--School Library Journal "The overall tone is one of solidarity in spite of difficulties."--Booklist
  • excerpts

    Edith of No Special Place

    I’m just plain Edith.

    I’m number four,

    and should anyone care,

    I’m eleven years old,

    with curly black hair.

    Squeezed / between /two / brothers,

    Daniel and Ray,

    lost in a crowd,

    will I ever be more

    than just plain Edith,

    who’s number four?

    In my overcrowded family

    I’m just another face.

    I’m just plain Edith

    of no special place.

    Always One More

    I saw these wooden nesting dolls in a store,

    the kind where you don’t know how many dolls

    there are altogether until you start

    opening them up,

    and there’s always

    one more inside,

    sort of like

    my family.

    Family Portrait, Baltimore, 1936

    We’re lined up:

    girl boy, girl boy, girl boy, girl boy, girl boy,

    and in the middle of us all, Dad,

    who ordered us to smile

    right before the Brownie clicked,

    standing stiff as a soldier,

    no smile on his face,

    and Mom’s beside him,

    a baby in her arms

    and in her rounded belly

    another one,

    just a trace.

    Inspector Bubby

    When Mom goes to the hospital

    to have this new baby,

    us older kids

    watch the younger ones

    and keep the house clean.

    We think we’re doing okay

    until Dad’s mother, Bubby Anne,

    comes over

    and runs her finger across the top

    of the china cabinet

    that we couldn’t even reach,

    just to show us the dust

    we’ve left behind.

    There Goes That Theory

    Nobody asked my opinion

    about having another sister or brother.

    But if someone had,

    I would have asked

    for another little sister,

    even though I was sure

    this new baby

    in Mom’s belly

    had to be a boy.

    How could I be so sure?

    Because the last girl she had

    was my sister Annette.

    Sometime after Annette came along,

    Mom collapsed

    and Dad rushed her to the hospital,

    where they took out one of her ovaries

    (part of her baby-making equipment,

    Bubby Anne told us).

    So my sisters and I thought

    it must have been

    the girl-making one

    because since the surgery

    Mom has had nothing but boys —

    my brothers Lenny, Melvin, Sol, and Jack.

    But now this baby in Mom’s belly

    turned out to be Sherry.

    And that’s the end

    of our ovary theory.

    Now We’re Even

    Maybe Mom and Dad

    wanted one last one

    to even things up.

    With six boys

    and now six girls,

    maybe they’re done.

    I guess there’s really

    no way of knowing,

    but I sure hope

    our family’s

    all done growing.

    Some People Don’t Understand

    About a Big Family

    My friends Connie and Eunice

    love coming to my house.

    To them it seems like

    we’re always having a party.

    But I’d rather go to their houses,

    where there’s room to move around

    without bumping into anybody

    and you never

    have to stand in line

    to use the bathroom.

    I Wonder What It Would Be Like

    To sleep by myself

    in this bed

    that holds three

    with all of the covers

    to cover

    just me.

    To spread my arms wide

    and lie

    at a slant

    with no other bodies

    to say

    that I can’t.

    To lie

    on a pillow,

    no feet in my face;

    I’d lie awake nights

    just feeling the space.

    Keeping the Days Straight

    Since it’s summertime

    and we aren’t back in school yet,

    I keep forgetting what day it is.

    So my brother Raymond

    teaches me the trick

    of checking what Mom’s making for dinner.

    Mondays are milkhik, Tuesdays, liver;

    Wednesdays are macaroni casserole days,

    Thursdays are meat,

    and Fridays we eat a Shabbos feast

    of chicken, chopped liver, and soup.

    Saturdays we have what’s left,

    and Sundays Dad brings home deli.

    So the day of the week

    all depends

    on what’s inside my belly.

    Why Can’t Summer Last


    Summer means

    we’re outside,

    trying to cool off.

    So my little brother Melvin

    grabs my hand

    and we run by the garden hose

    that Mom’s waving around.

    We scream with glee

    as she hoots and sprays us

    with its misty breath.

    Summer means

    trips to the shore with Dad,

    where we all play tag

    with the waves

    and build castles in the sand

    and then, on the way home,

    stop for kosher dogs,

    lathered with mustard,

    like shaving cream on a man’s face.

    Summer means

    matinees at the Roxy Theatre

    on weekdays,

    not just weekends,

    and taking my brothers and sisters

    to the park

    to play dodge ball

    and horseshoes

    and hum in the kazoo band.

    Why can’t summer last forever?

    Lucky Lenny

    Last Sunday

    when Dad took us to swim in the bay

    at Workmen’s Circle Lodge,

    my little brother Lenny slipped

    on a plum pit in the pavilion

    and broke both his legs.

    He’s in the hospital now,

    getting loads of comic books,

    marbles, and card games

    and more candy buttons and chocolate licorice

    than he could ever eat,

    and the nurses are fluffing up his pillows

    and bringing him grape soda all the time.

    He’s even making new friends,

    playing war and go fish

    with the man in the next bed.

    Today when we went to swim,

    I looked as hard as I could

    for my own

    plum pit.

    One Summer Night

    My little sister Marian is missing again,

    so Dad packs some of us into his Hudson

    (we can’t all fit)

    and we drive around until we finally find Marian

    in the park,

    bouncing her little paddle board and ball,

    not even noticing the dark

    at all.

    When we get home,

    Dad uses Marian’s paddle,

    but not on the ball,

    and she doesn’t act like she’s sorry

    at all.

    Goodbye to Summer

    When Dad’s mother, Bubby Anne,

    gives us all pairs of new socks

    to wear to school,

    it’s time to say goodbye to summer.

    When Mom’s mom, Bubby Etta,

    reaches into her shopping bag

    full of crayons, jacks, and candy

    and hands each of us

    "a little something special

    to start off the new school year,"

    it’s time to say goodbye to summer.But I wish it wasn’t.

    Now I’ll have to go to school all day

    instead of swimming

    at the Patterson Park pool

    and playing stickball

    with Daniel and his friends

    and taking Melvin to the Roxy

    to see the Popeye cartoons.I’ll have to get up early,

    even before the sun rubs the sleep

    out of its eyes.

    I’ll have to face math tests

    and spelling bees and homework

    and the weather will turn dreary

    and stormy like in a scary movie.I know it’s time to say goodbye to summer,

    but I’d much rather be saying hello.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544022713

  • ISBN-10: 0544022718

  • Pages: 176

  • Price: $7.99

  • Publication Date: 09/10/2013

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 10,11,12

  • Grade(s): 5-7

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 1130L

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