Sheila Says We’re Weird

Sheila Says We’re Weird

Ruth Ann Smalley, Author

Jennifer Emery, Illustrator

Tilbury House Publishers, Fiction, April 2011

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and up

Themes:  Energy Conservation, Green Living, Neighbors, Differences

Opening Sheila lives next door.  She’s friends with my little sister, Tina.  Sheila asks lots of questions.  She hangs over the back fence when we peg clothes on the line.  “Why Don’t you drop those in the dryer?  Did it break?  Sheila asks.”  “This is our solar dryer, Sheila.  The clothes get dry without using any electricity.”

Synopsis:  Sheila follows her neighbors through the seasons when they plant a garden and grow their own food, mow the lawn with a push mower, brew sun tea, ride bicycles to the farmer’s market to buy local food,  mulch trees and plants with leaves, and use a wood burning stove to warm the house.   She finds their lifestyle interesting, but unfamiliar and weird.   But, Sheila enjoys the home-grown meals made with fresh vegetables and playing with Tina in front of the fire.  Perhaps they are weird in a good way.

Why I like this book:  What a great way to introduce kids to energy conservation!  Ruth Ann Smalley, is a holistic educator that writes about green living.  She won a Moonbeam Bronze Award for Picture Books for her book.  Living green can be a tough subject for kids who are used to modern conveniences.  But, it is important.  And Smalley has tackled the subject in a fun way.

Resources:  Click on Tilbury House Publishers  and Reach and Teach for activities and resources in the classroom.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

40 thoughts on “Sheila Says We’re Weird

  1. You will not believe this, Pat, but I have this book. I reviewed it on the Character Counts! Educator blog and there was a little controversy about the use of the word “weird” – I can’t remember the specifics now, but I agree that it’s a great book!


  2. It’s funny air drying is so common in England but even in NZ it’s rare. It’s much harder in Canada because of the weather.


    • I remember hanging clothing outside when I was a child. Very few had dryers in the 50s. It was exciting getting a dryer. And, I remember indoor wracks for the winter. We had a compost pile for my Dad’s big garden. And, I remember push lawn mowers.


  3. Someone recently shared a cartoon on Facebook where a young girl is sitting with her mother in the living room and asks her mother “Mom… What’s ‘normal’?” Her mother responds “That’s just a setting on the washing machine sweetheart.”

    One family in our lives has NEVER had a television in the house. The two children (now 11 and 14) are incredibly creative and I think a big part of that creativity has been because of never having a TV on. One of the boys has channeled that creativity into a passion for reading (when indoors) and a love of sports. The other is endlessly building things and loves all kinds of indoor and outdoor games.

    Other kids, though, think it is weird NOT to have a TV. I’ll take weird any day!

    Thanks for sharing one of our favorite books. Beyond the ability it gives you to start a conversation about consuming less and altering daily habits, it also lets you look at the many different things people consider “weird” that are merely “different.”


    • We consumed so much less years ago when I grew up in the 50s-60s. That’s why it is hard for kids today to understand. We didn’t have air conditioninng and dryers. Families only owned one car. So, it’s good that there are books like this to introduce kids to consuming less. We played outside all day all over the neighborhood and only came home for lunch and dinner. We used our imaginations! I’m glad I know the difference. Today, kids think it’s weird not to have an mobile device.


  4. Just think, when we were growing up and even raising our young we dried our diapers on the clothes line, grew food in the garden and had our own chickens. Now we have to teach it all again to a new generation.

    What goes around comes around. Sounds like a good book. I’ll check it out.


    • You and I are the same generation. Yes, we used cloth diapers. Heaven help us if the electricity goes out for a long time. We wouldn’t be able to depend on ourselves like we did before. And, it is important to teach kids about growing gardens and conserving energy and water.


  5. Patricia – this sounds wonderful….I think we stopped visiting with one another because of electricity. Instead of sitting out on the front porch in the evening to catch a breeze and visit with the neighbors, we stay inside in a/c. Instead of getting out of the car to open the garage door and shout ‘hey, how are you?’ to the neighbor we press the button on the garage door opener and zoom inside. Will look for this at the library.


    • Thanks Laura. I am glad you liked the book. It certainly was nostalgic for many of us. We don’t interact with the neighbors anymore like we used to. And, kids don’t have the safety we had to play outside and imagine the day away.


  6. I had to laugh at the opening line as there’s a washer and dryer in the basement where I am staying and you should hear the comments I have had for hanging up my clothes to dry on the rack instead of using the dryer! Great topic and I think I would love this one, Pat!


  7. My grown daughter lives on an island, bakes her own bread, chops her own wood for heat, grows her own vegetables and uses a sun shower. Many people think she is “weird”. I think she is awesome! Sounds like a great book.


  8. That girl on the cover is pretty funny! What a great idea for a story! I’m lucky to live in a community that’s full of “weird” folks. Weird here is normal! Lots of clothes flapping on lines and fences. Lots of gardens and chickens and compost piles. Lots of wood burning heaters. I’ll have to check this book out! Thanks for a brilliant pick!


  9. Well even in NZ there are some of us who are weird in a good sort of way. I for one still use the outside line to hang my washing on or use the clothes drying stand out on the deck when it looks like rain, even though we have a drier. We also grow veges, and salad plants to use. Only our heating is not wood. Used to have a “tile fire” in our first home which I used to love making soups and stews on. This is a great book, which would be widely appreciated here in NZ.


    • That is so cool Diane! I live in a neighborhood where there is an association and rules. I’m not familiar with a “tile fire.” Perhaps it is called something different here. Good for you! Glad you liked the book.


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