Tonight’s book was pretty entertaining. “You Get What You Get” by Julie Gassman is about a finicky squirrel (?) named Melvin (which is a great name for a children’s book character, by the way). Melvin is terribly picky, and – crucially – not afraid to let everyone at home know in no uncertain terms when he is upset…because his cookies don’t have enough chocolate chips, because the store is sold out of dinosaur backpacks, because he lost his turn in a game, etc. Every disappointment is cause for a tantrum. Melvin is an emotional terrorist and a brat.
But wait, what’s this? He doesn’t throw fits at school? That’s right, because his teacher has a rule: “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit”. This rule confounds Melvin. He hates the fact that when at school, he must stifle his tantrums no matter how disappointed he becomes. Eventually, Melvin makes the mistake of throwing this rule (figuratively) in his sister’s face in an argument at home. His entire family stops and gapes in astonishment. You mean, there’s an alternative to Melvin’s constant explosions? Ooops! All’s well that ends without tantrums, however. At the end of the story, we find the entire family sitting together contentedly – watching a movie that Melvin didn’t want to see…but, hey: You Get What You Get.
I really enjoyed the goofy illustrations and expressions in this book, and Melvin’s antics did earn a giggle or two from our audience at home. I was also amused by the concept that a rule written in chalk on the blackboard had the power to make Melvin rein himself in; never mind mom & dad, if his teacher says that’s the way it must be, well…of course it must be that way.
I also appreciated the simple beauty of the rule promulgated by Melvin’s teacher, particularly the “…you don’t throw a fit” part. However, our oldest was not as fond of this doctrine as I. She must have felt that the title of the book was encouraging people to lower their standards and settle…kids.