The Blue Ribbon Day


Written by Katie Couric, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Doubleday, 2004

Ellie McSnelly and Carrie O’Toole

raced down the hall of Brookhaven School.

How is the author famous?  Katie Couric is a reporter and journalist who has hosted shows on all three major networks in the US.

Ellie and Carrie both try out for the soccer team and imagine the fun they’ll have playing on the team together. Ellie does well, but Carrie struggles with the game and doesn’t make the team. She goes home feeling very sad and her mother comforts her, reminding her that everyone has a chance to shine, once they find where their skills lie. The next day, Carrie discusses the upcoming science fair with her lab partner and she proposes an idea that she’s been considering. Together, they work in the lab and create multi-colored crystals that win the blue ribbon at the science fair. Ellie is proud of Carrie’s success and Carrie cheers Ellie on the next day when their team wins the soccer game.

They're so girly that even their soccer dreams have purple swirls.

They’re so girly that even their soccer dreams have purple swirls.

Author Katie Couric first wrote about these two friends in her first picture book, The Brand New Kid, in which they learned about tolerance and friendship. Here, they are learning that everyone has different talents. The plot is a little cliché and the rhymes are a little clunky in places, but I think kids will overlook that and get a lot out of the message. I’ve seen some people criticizing the book for encouraging kids to give up if they don’t succeed at their first attempt, but I didn’t feel that it was sending that message at all. Caldecott Medal winner Marjorie Priceman illustrates this book in bright colors and fills the backgrounds with a diverse group of fellow students.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that you’re not going to have all the same talents as your friends and that’s fine. Keep the friends, support their talents and cultivate new talents of your own, which will lead to new friends as well.


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