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For Readers Age 9 - 12
Grades 4th - 8th

Iggy the Iguana - Review
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Publisher's Description:

Williams, Melissa. (2008). Iggy the Iguana. Houston, TX: Long Tale Publishing. ISBN #978-0-9818054-0-5. Author lists ages 7-11. Litland recommends for ages 9-12, grades 3 (advanced) through 6.

Iggy the Iguana, inspired by the author's love of a childhood pet, will touch the hearts of all readers. Kids relate well to the animal characters in this book, as Iggy and his new friends go through their school year together and experience many of the same things kids experience in fourth grade, today. Iggy learns how to adapt to the changes in his life and opens his eyes to realize that change can be pretty good. Each character in this story has a unique and even humorous personality of their own, making, Melissa M. Williams', Iggy the Iguana, a fun book for all types of kids to read. 

Respect for self and others:This includes integrity (adherence to a code of conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not focused on getting their way no matter what) self respect--main character does not let others denigrate him or her; use of self control and self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour; fairness to others (such as taking turns and avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves “How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone act this way?” This includes true friendships that do not involve regular lying, deceit or manipulation; considering consequences of actions prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once an action has been taken.

Iggy shows remorse when he hurts someone or makes a mistake, such as yelling at his sister. When Snap Shell states having to wear school uniforms is like “going to church every day”, Iggy defends it. He steers conversations into a positive frame. Rather than deceiving or manipulating, all three characters consider feelings of others and consequences of their own actions. Whether it is remembering to walk slow so that Snap Shell can keep up, or defending a friend against a bully, these characters demonstrate the best of friendship.

Portrayal of Authority figures:The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”

Iggy’s parents are an important and active part of his life. He demonstrates respect for the boundaries set as well as for their guidance. Dad-and-Son talks do not dwell on the discussion itself but, rather, the positive outcome from it. The “children” act respectfully of parents, teachers and the school principle, immediately helping when asked to, speaking politely. When, in casual conversation, Snap Shell and Liz start to question what their teacher and principal are like, what could be a mean gossip rant turns positive thanks to Iggy always putting a positive twist on conversations.

Other characters act as expected for their role in Iggy’s life: the principal is firm but caring; the teacher (a terrier!) stern but fair, etc.

Citizenship and Patriotism:Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.

As we get to know Iggy, Liz and Snap Shell, we find each has strong family connections that serve to guide them when making choices. Their loyalty to each other is strong as well. Iggy may complain about his younger sister but he will also go out in the street to retrieve part of her costume, console her when she’s scared and look out for her welfare. The entire family joins together to cheer on Mr. Green in the big race. Families are central in each character’s life with meaningful oversight by parents and family meals.

Justice and Balance:a just distribution between good and evil (with good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline); demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”

Every story has a antagonist and for Iggy’ class, it is Kat. In real school, there is always that kid who tries to sneak into the teacher’s drawers, classmates’ desk, or otherwise stir up trouble. This book has just enough of Kat in the scenes to remind us of the imperfect world of childhood, while using that as an opportunity for the “good guys” to face choices, make decisions and learn from mistakes. Reminded to not judge others too quickly, Liz and Snap remember that we are all “God’s creatures” and the urge to be mean to others is set aside.

Aesthetic Aspects of Life Experience:Look for a storyline portrayal of beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism), profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to denigrate the sacred.

Iggy’s self-talk makes him human, and the expression of emotions are realistic. Learning to treasure the differences of others rather than seeking sameness, the book has a theme supporting collaboration, diversity, and just getting along. Strong portrayal of traditional family values make this a feel-good story all the way around.

Other things to Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.

No issues, hidden meanings or agendas to be concerned with. In contrast, the book is an honest and constant display of good character behaviours. A modern concept added in is Snap Shell attending counseling to deal with his mother’s death (the death precedes this story). He learns to be open about his feelings and to communicate the same, providing a good example of how to deal with tragedy. He accepts his mother going to Heaven. Occasional faith-based references such as prayer and blessing occur.

Iggy has a crush on Liz, and Snap advises him on his “pick-up” skills to prevent his “girl” from being stolen from him. Although much is made of Iggy having a girlfriend throughout the story, the manner in which it is dealt is reminiscent of the Peanuts Series, with Charlie Brown chasing the little red haired girl (or perhaps more like Opie Taylor’s first girlfriend on the Andy Griffith show, since Charlie Brown never caught his girl!). And through the struggle, Iggy finds his nerve. However, families who prefer to limit their intake of boy-girl relations for younger children should discuss this as part of their Do-Re-Mi’s. For those families who follow Theology of the Body  or Purity Pledges, this can provide a good opportunity for family discussion.

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion:  

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