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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Too-Clever XI: Susan's Shadow is an educational book for children and preteens, grades 4-6, written and designed by Dr. Julia E. Antoine. Susan always wanted to be big, like her older brother, Peter. He was two years older than she and would always tell her that she was too little to play with him and his friends. It seemed to be taking forever until she would be tall enough to play with him, if ever. When she was younger, she would see her shadow growing longer and think it meant she too was growing, and Peter loved to tease her about that. It was hard for Susan to be Susan. She wanted to do all the cool things that Peter and his friends did. Susan loved to climb trees, run and fly kites, and play outdoors games like soccer. Her best friend, Marcie, didn't like those kinds of activities. Marcie wanted to play with her dolls and stay indoors where she would be clean. No matter how hard Susan tried to get Peter to accept her, she knew it would never work because she was only a girl. If only she had a puppy, she thought, she could play and run with her puppy and she wouldn't need to depend on mean Peter and his friends. She began to research dog breeds to find the best breed and gender for her pup, and she even gave him a name. Now, all she had to do was convince her mom and dad to let her have one.
Dr. Julia E. Antoine's educational book for children, grades 4-6, Too-Clever XI: Susan's Shadow, follows 11-year-old Susan who, like so many other children, doesn't fit into the traditional gender roles and interests. She wants to be active, have adventures and enjoy the outdoors, just like her brother and his friends do. She's also interested in science and why her shadow moves, morphs and changes shape. Antoine's Susan also learns about the responsibilities entailed in getting and caring for a puppy as well as the many rewards of dog ownership. And along the way, she learns the scientific data behind the activities of her capricious shadow and gives a first-rate presentation to her science class about it. I loved how Susan's mom gently reproves Peter when he pontificates on how girls should or should not be boastful or behave, and the overall support she gives to her clever and curious daughter in this inspiring and informative tale about preteens, gender-neutral preferences, and the excitement and effervescence of coming of age. Too-Clever XI: Susan's Shadow is most highly recommended.