MODULE 2: CLASSIC CHILDREN’S & YOUNG ADULT LIT
THE CAT ATE MY GYMSUIT
Summary: The Cat Ate My Gymsuit is the tale of young Marcy Lewis who desperately wishes to be normal. Verbally abused by her father, overweight Marcy has severe self-esteem issues. Just when she thinks this will be her life forever, she gets a new English teacher, Ms Finney. Ms. Finney is outspoken, opinionated and interested in helping her students really learn: about English, the world and themselves. When Ms. Finney is caught up in a school controversy that leads to her suspension, Marcy and many of her other students organize to fight against the administration for Ms. Finney’s position. She starts makes friends and defies her abusive father’s will. In the course of their battle, Marcy begins to understand who she really is and to stand up for herself in her fight to save Ms. Finney.
Citation: Danziger, P. (1982). The cat ate my gymsuit. New York, NY: Laurel Leaf
Impression: I enjoyed this book’s tale of the girl who overcame the obstacles in her life: her father, her school administration, and most importantly, herself. Marcy is portrayed as a typical teenager suffering from self-esteem issues and is accordingly a little depressed. The writing reflects this. Even when Marcy and her mother stand up to her father in the fight against the school administration, the father still is unchanged and degrades them both. I think that the father is an interesting plot device, rather than a dynamic character. Marcy begins to make friends; however, if she had just looked outside of herself she would have seen the people willing to befriend her long ago. This book is still relevant, but it has aged and the young readers that would benefit most from the read will not recognize a world without the internet and cell phones.
from BookPage website: http://www.bookpage.com
Paula Danziger knows that being a kid is not necessarily the "best years of your life," and for almost 25 years, she's been helping kids get through those years with her humorous and realistic novels for 6-to-14-year-olds. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit first published in 1974, set the standard now expected by young readers with its story of Marcy Lewis, an overweight, somewhat shy, junior-high girl who takes up the cause of her suspended English teacher.
The marvel is that Danziger's stories are still so current - no out-of-date slang or situations.Kids may know Danziger's character, Amber Brown, best, but Marcy Lewis, Matthew Martin, and Aurora Berealus Williams also bring nods of recognition. Their popularity stems from the way Danziger treats their serious, at least to them, problems with brisk vigor and humor. Finding a pimple, breaking up with a best friend, and fighting with parents or a sibling happen throughout the years, and Danziger paints such catastrophes in a mix of sympathy and humor. Having been "a fat little girl who had a younger brother, hated school, and felt like a misfit at home," she has plenty of experience to draw from. For several years she was a teacher herself. Then two car accidents within a year forced her to turn to another vocation, and, lucky for readers, writing was it.
Danziger has mastered the craft of middle-grade novel as well as adopting the costume and manner that appeal to kids. She stays in touch with her regular visits to schools and book fairs. Her latest schedule calls for a visit to a very special school, the winner of the contest described at right.
Uses: I think that this would be a good book to use in a book club for a comparison of a similar story set in modern times. For example, The Fatboy Chronicles by Diane Lang could be a great contrasting book for the gender and time period. This book could also be used to discuss student’s rights as this is another issue in the book.