Just in Case by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal fell off the shelf onto my head today. That’s a good thing. It made me immediately recall the tale of the Three Sillies. The first time I heard the story of The Three Sillies, there was a secret part of me that thought, the girl is absolutely right, that axe could fall and dire things could hapen. Much could go wrong, but, I thought, she should get up and start preparing just in case. Then I listed 4-5 other things that could go wrong, also, that the author hadn’t included. My poor grandmother. How she ever survived story time with me, I don’t know?! She made a simple comment that I should stop bothering her with my questions and just write down my ideas. It’s her fault I have written so much.
Fortunately Judith Viorst has written about someone just like me. Poor Charlie is a boy who is always ready for anything just in case. If some of you read Susan Pfeffer’s bookLife As We Knew It last summer, you’ll understand why I appreciated this page in Just in case:
"And just in case all the food stores are closed, And stay closed for a really long time, And there’s nothing left to eat except old dirty socks, Charlie has made a hundred and seventeen peanut-butter sandwiches and wrapped them up nicely and packed them all in a box, Along with some blueberry yogurt and crispy crackers (that’s for his mom), and (for his dad) lots of bagels with cream cheese and lox. "
I deeply appreciate this book although I immediately began a new list of Charlie’s mistakes. He shouldn’t have premade the sandwiches, but he should have packed the peanut butter jar and bread, rotating them constantly when they got old so his mother never knew what was going on. Some of his ideas have expiration dates, but don’t worry, I am already preparing my list to share with Judith Viorst just in case she needs to write a sequel and needs my help. While this story shows Charlie coming up with more and more outlandish ideas, there will always be some children who specialize in worrying and who need you to spell out the "message" of this story. You see, there could be some people who read just in case and decide they’d better have an emergency plan prepared in case someone gives them a surprise party.
Would you like to read my secret journal full of lists of things for all emergencies? When one of many tornadoes was headed to our house and my family was standing on the back step watching it come over the hill, what was I doing? Taking my carefully prioritized list and moving everything of value to the fruit cellar (including our pets, my brand new typewriter for college gift, money, changes of clothes for everyone in the family, disaster food supplies, and our favorite photo album. I couldn’t convince the people to join me, but the animals and I were well-prepared and safe. Fortunately the tornado only destroyed our beloved apple tree, but, don’t worry, I had already been saving appleseeds just in case.
So this title will likely be paired with Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. I’d read Wemberly Worried to my K-2 crowd and keep Just in case for the older students who seem to have a problem with excessive worrying. Not me! No, sir. It’s not excessive. I know what can go wrong with life and I need to go prepare the extra 250 matches and 25 candles I have. Where was that canned milk and the can opener? Who moved the shovel and extra waterproof container of blankets?….