Gloria’s Way by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Lis Toft.
Puffin, Penguin Putnam books for Young Readers, New York, 2001.
Realistic fiction short stories, 96 pages.
Lexile: 600L .
AR Level: 3.1 (worth 1.0 points) .
NOTE: Technically part of the Julian/Huey/Gloria series, but could stand alone.
Six short stories about Gloria, best friends with Julian Bates and his little brother Huey.
Some of the stories in this collection include Julian, Huey, their dog Spunky, or new friend Latisha while others focus on Gloria. As I usually do with short stories, I’ll briefly discuss each individual story.
A Valentine For My Mother
Gloria’s made the best valentine ever for her mother. But it is so windy that the valentine blows away – right into a parrot cage! Now how will Gloria show her mom how much she loves her?
This was one of the weaker stories. Children should never put their hand into a strange bird’s cage (as Gloria does) and I wasn’t keen on the parrot portion of the story. But the overall message, especially the ending, was touching.
This short story is about Latisha, a new friend who’s moved into the neighborhood. She wants to play house, but Gloria and Huey say they can’t because Julian wouldn’t like it. So Latisha gets her revenge, then the three friends strike back. Can Mr. Bates prevent this from becoming an all-out war?
This was one of my favorites in this collection. The imagery was vivid and the situation felt like something I could imagine happening among my students or even with friends in my own childhood. A reoccurring aspect of this series is the children turning to trusted adults, especially the boys’ dad, for help or advice, and I love the way that is modeled in this story in particular.
Spunky’s Obsession and The Secret
These two stories deal with Huey’s dog Spunky (who later gets his own book). The first is about Spunky getting trained and becoming obsessed with squirrels. While the training methods used aren’t bad, the kids don’t get everything right. The second, very short story deals with how Huey responds to Gloria’s teasing about Spunky’s lack of training and puts her on the spot. Mr. Bates teaches a gentle but important lesson.
This short story returns us to the question of friendship. Gloria has been sick in bed for three whole days, but none of her friends have come to visit. Does this mean that Latisha is Julian’s best friend now? Gloria learns about friendship and respecting others.
Another favorite. Latisha’s arrival changed the dynamic and Gloria is feeling insecure. Julian handles it well, with a little help from caring adults. Another story role-modeling a positive way to handle a difficult situation everyone will face sometime.
A Rock in the Road
Gloria is struggling with a new topic at school – fractions. For those who have been wondering about her family, in this story we learn that her father lives with them, he’s just rarely around because so much time goes into his business. When his wife is away, Gloria’s father is in charge and she wonders if he can handle hair braiding, cooking dinner, and helping her understand fractions.
This was a lovely little story about Gloria bonding with her father as both of them come to new realizations about each other and their family. Difficulty with fractions is common, and Gloria’s dad has a great approach. He also learns about how his daughter is feeling.
I think this book was intended to be a Valentine’s Day read, and it certainly could work that way. While only the first story has any direct tie to the holiday (and even then it only mentions making a valentine, which could be done at any time of year), several of the stories have to do with friendship or relationships. While it isn’t my favorite in this series, Gloria’s Way is a solid addition whatever time of year you choose to read it. I think either the collection, or a story from it, would make a great read-aloud too. Recommended.