Spork by Kyo Maclear

sporkCindy: I have a new appreciation for the spork. You know, that plastic combo spoon/fork that is usually seen in fast food restaurants or school cafeterias where the clientèle can’t be trusted with a real fork? Well, count me in as a new fan. In Spork (Kids Can Press, 2010) multicultural literature gets an innovative spin. Spork doesn’t fit in to the cutlery world in which he lives. His mum is a spoon and his dad is a fork. He’s too pointy for the spoons’ liking and too rounded for the forks’. Spork tries to ignore half of his heritage and be a “single thing,” but it doesn’t work out. He seems destined to be an oddity until he finds a purpose that includes his whole self.

Talking about multicultural appreciation in a diverse classroom is sometimes a tricky thing as it is easy for some children to feel targeted by the conversation even when its purpose is inclusion. I’ve always like Polly Horvath’s book When the Circus Came to Town (Farrar, 1996) as a non-threatening way to discuss neighborhood integration. The folks in Springfield, Illinois are troubled when the circus workers slowly move to town. Can the snake lady be trusted on the church casserole committee or will bits of snake end up in the food? Why don’t the flying Gambini brothers know that you don’t sell garages at garage sales? Spork fits in the same category and gives reassurance that it is okay to be different and that our differences all have a place in the world and make us valuable. I will be sharing this book with our middle school teachers as a possibility for our diversity lessons. And, I’ve never been tempted to wear a spoon ring, but maybe if I can find a silver spork…

Lynn: My first impression of Spork was “what an odd little book!” But I very quickly appreciated how nicely Maclear skirted the perils of preachiness and instead created a a story with a lesson so mixed with fun that it slides down easily. Cindy’s right about this being a book that could be used in a lot of ways.

On a more practical level, the whole utensil thing is an big deal for kids – something we adults forget unless the end results of that struggle are hitting our own floors. Our focus group are pretty handy these days with spoons and forks so we’ve starting adding knives to the equation with mixed results. The boys are intent on doing most everything themselves and there are times when a spork would be extremely welcome around here!

The boys liked this book a lot especially the “messy thing” who creates cutlery chaos and ultimately reveals how valuable Spork really is. Isabelle Arsenault’s intriguing illustrations are a clever sort of precise scribble that is very effective and the great explosion of flying red food is a terrific contrast the lonely grey tones at the beginning.

We have a new “messy thing” in our family and although he isn’t ready for solid food yet, it won’t be long. I’m adding sporks to our utensil drawer soon so we’re ready when he is!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Spork by Kyo Maclear"

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  1. zerendipity5252@aol.com' e.rodriguez says:

    i enjojoyed spork a great deal but, would like to know if there are teachers who created lessons activities for this book please share thanks a lot

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