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About the Book:
Pidge, a middle child of seven siblings, is angry with her family after being left behind at a restaurant. She decides to run away to prove to her family that they won’t miss her. To escape from her house unnoticed, Pidge slides down the laundry chute with a plan to sneak out the backdoor. Her plan is foiled when she gets stuck in the laundry chute on her brother’s football pads. As she spends hours in the laundry chute, various items owned by her siblings come down the laundry chute, not only dirty clothes. Her mischievous little brother throws down a basketball shoe and baseball glove. Pidge finds candy in a pair of pants and enjoys being in the chute for some time as “no one can tell her what to do” and she gets to eat lots of candy. However, as the day continues, she becomes cold and develops a stomachache. She begins to wonder if she misses her family and starts to shiver. Pidge puts on her siblings clothes in the laundry chute and wraps herself in her sister’s blankie to ease her chills. Pidge becomes sad thinking about not being with her family. She must find a way out of the chute. Her family can’t hear her because the clothes in the chute muffle her voice.
However, Pidge hears the family dog, Maverick, barking and her mom’s voice. Pidge now must act. She pushes one of her legs through the football pads and nudges the laundry chute door open, hoping to get Maverick’s attention. Maverick goes wild and all her family runs into the laundry room to see why Maverick is barking and scratching at the laundry chute door. Pidge’s dad opens the laundry chute door and “there is Pidge.” Her family is relieved to find Pidge. She tells her dad that she tried to run away because she “hates being the middle child and being forgotten.” Pidge’s parents explain to her that being in the middle is a good thing, as she is loved on all sides. Pidge’s siblings then tell her that a day without Pidge was a disaster. Pidge learns how much she is loved and needed, ending the day reading her book and hand-feeding Maverick.
Messages for children and adults in Where is Pidge?
As Michelle wrote the story of Where is Pidge? it was important for her to write a full story arc and ensure that her character transformed. Michelle believes pictures books are for all ages and loves the quote by Harriet Ziefert, the children’s author, describing a good children’s book:
“It’s often said that a good picture book resonates on two levels – for the child and for the adults reading to the child. What’s not said is just how a picture book goes about doing this. I believe there are issues that surface in childhood that continue throughout our lives, and that when we’re eighty, we’re still negotiating these basic issues. Separation, loss, reunion; dependence vs. independence; insecurity (which includes feelings of jealousy, envy and rivalry) vs. security; delayed gratification. These stories that have the most powerful effect on both child and adults are the ones that deal with at least one of these lifelong struggles. Though a child’s experiences are different from a 20-year-olds, and a 30-year-old’s are different from a 40-year-old’s, the same feelings are at the core.”
Michelle believes we all have a little bit of Pidge in us. And the story of Pidge is about love, validation, gratitude, being in the middle, serving others and reading.
- Pidge is LOVED but she believes in the beginning of the story that her family doesn’t love or care about her. We must tell our kids that we love them. We can’t assume they know. All children are loved and/or deserved to be loved.
- Pidge doesn’t feel loved. While she is wrong, that is her real feeling and she shouldn’t be criticized for her feelings. We must VALIDATE children’s feelings and emotions. Even if we don’t agree with their emotions, we must listen.
- Pidge is a very important family member and valued. However, until she disappears for the day, no one has verbalized to her and thanked her for all she does to support her family unit. We must remember to express our GRATITUDE to those who do for us. A “smile” and “thank you” go a long way.
- Pidge feels lost in the MIDDLE of her large family. However, after a day in the laundry chute, she learns being in the middle is a good thing. No one likes the middle seat on an airplane or being in the middle of their class. The sophomore student in high school is the “middle child”. We are all in the middle at one time and can learn from our experiences. The middle is a very important place often. The President of the United States sits in the middle of table during Cabinet Meetings. The pitcher on the baseball field is in the middle of the field. The middle applies to all of us and can be a good thing.
- Pidge has a huge heart, is a caregiver and loves her family. She contributes by SERVING her family. It’s important that we not only serve our family, but also anyone who is struggling or needs us. And this we learn first in our own home.
- Pidge loves to READ and always has a book with her. Everyone has the right to be literate. Reading is important as it opens our eyes to a new world and teaches us empathy. We are better people the more we read.