A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Bea and her classmates are learning about colonial life in New York by preparing a meal typical of that time. Bea learns to makes butter by shaking heavy cream and in jar -- for a really long time. She learns a lot about oysters and their role in Native American and colonial American life. There's also information about the modern-day attempts to bring oyster beds back to the waters of New York. Bea's therapist, Miriam, teaches Bea techniques for feeling her feelings, and for managing anxiety and anger, including giving herself time to worry twice a day for five minutes, and then putting the rest of the worry aside until those times.
Happiness can make you feel huge. Thinking two steps ahead allows you to slow down and make good choices. Family can be the people who love you. The feelings behind hating something or someone might actually be feelings of fear or uncertainty. Being honest about how you feel can help you communicate your feelings with others. Try to stick with people who love you for who you are. You are allowed to make mistakes and to be forgiven.
Positive Role Models
Bea's parents are both communicative and attentive to her needs, especially when they separate and divorce. Her mom takes her to a therapist named Miriam, whom Bea eventually learns to trust whoeheartedly. Her dad's boyfriend, Jesse, is sensitive to Bea's feelings, and he does things that feel right and good to her. Jesse's sister, Sheila, is a caregiver in Bea's life, and Bea is thrilled that Sheila will become her aunt when her father and Jesse get married. The people in Bea's life all seem to be White. Some people in their lives can't accept or respect her dad and Jesse's decision to get married.
Violence & Scariness
Bea has trouble controlling her anger, and she pushes, hits and "bashes" kids, but this is not described in brutal detail. Parents talk with her mom about her behavior, and one girl says she is "mean." Bea apologizes for her actions, goes to therapy to help manage her emotions, and eventually stops acting out.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bea's dad and Jesse hold hands and hug at the wedding.
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Products & Purchases
Star Trek: The Next Generation is watched often in Bea's home -- an episode is described in detail, and characters talk and imitate Captain Picard. Band-Aid, Connect Four, Sorry, Boggle, Skype, Frog and Toad, Harriet the Spy, Madeline, Paddington, Charlotte's Web, M.C. Higgins the Great, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Boy Scouts.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine at a wedding.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Newbery Award winning author Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me), is a tender and compelling story about divorce and remarriage told in retrospect by a 12-year-old girl. After she hears of her parents' plans for divorce, Bea begins to worry more and has big feelings, which play a role in her behavior, and her behavior starts to get unpredictable. She gets very angry at anyone who calls her names having to do with her parents being divorced, and she gets furious when anyone makes comments about her dad being gay. Her actions include grabbing a cousin's ponytail, shoving, throwing things, "bashing" people, and pushing people. Bea apologizes for her actions and works to control her behavior. People who have different beliefs about homosexuality speak out in hurtful ways. Adults drink wine at a wedding.
Is It Any Good?
Poetic, heartfelt, courageous and bright, this story about changes in family expertly covers a lot of emotional acreage. Kids will relate to Bea's kid-wise yet innocent voice. She understands why her dad is in love with Jesse -- "The things Jesse brought never felt wrong. They felt like presents." But she can't control her annoyance at people like her teacher Mr. Home, who gives special lunch privileges to kids who get great grades on spelling tests, and Bea never gets great grades on spelling tests. Bea's emotions have all the color, intensity, and flavor of feelings that have never been felt before: the balloon-big feeling of elation, and the dark, itchy feeling of uncertainty.
Author Rebecca Stead crafts an intimate and unique story of loss, change, and hope with The List of Things That Will Not Change. She daubs New York City with a romantic glow, plunking a 10-year-old in the kitchen of her dad's restaurant while she nurses a cut foot, eating homemade butter sprinkled with sea salt on freshly made bread. She paints wonderful characters, like Jesse and Sheila, the sunny Southerners, who bring their love and tenderness to a child set adrift by changes. And she raises a quiet and powerful fist when Bea's dad gets married to the man he loves. The swirling splintering of a child's feelings of loss and love when a family goes through divorce has found a voice in this book.
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