Standing for Socks

Standing for Socks

3.8 13
by Elissa Brent Weissman, Jessica Sonkin
     
 

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When Fara Ross puts on mismatched socks accidentally one morning, little does she know that it will ignite her political career. What begins as a wardrobe malfunction grows into an expression of freedom in footwear, and that can only lead to bigger things -- like the race for sixth-grade student council president.

Fara knows she is perfect for the job. But… See more details below

Overview

When Fara Ross puts on mismatched socks accidentally one morning, little does she know that it will ignite her political career. What begins as a wardrobe malfunction grows into an expression of freedom in footwear, and that can only lead to bigger things -- like the race for sixth-grade student council president.

Fara knows she is perfect for the job. But as the election nears, she realizes that everyone, from her friends on her campaign team to her entire town, is paying more attention to her socks than to the issues that she stands for. All Fara wants is to serve the community. Does she have the creativity and the passion that it takes to help people see beyond her feet? Even at the cost of her friendships? Who knew that socks could spark such a revolution -- and so many problems?!

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Fara wore mismatched socks to school in fifth grade and caused such a ruckus that she started mixing them on purpose so that others would notice her. Now in sixth grade, she's known as "that sock girl," and she uses this attention to launch a campaign for class president. Once elected, she hopes to establish a recycling program and be known for something worthwhile. Unfortunately, the sock craze has a momentum all its own, and Fara struggles to keep it under control while launching her campaign, navigating a misunderstanding with her best friend, and sparring with the class villain. The writing is clear, and the kids' voices are realistically silly. Never have so many sock puns been compiled into one volume. The third-person narration increases suspense by giving readers information hidden to Fara. She matures realistically throughout the novel and ends up content with the outcome, even though it isn't all she had hoped for. The story is sometimes far-fetched, but it consistently comes back down to earth with likable characters, unexpected twists, and a bit of whimsy.-Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK

Kirkus Reviews
While social activism arguably deserves promotion, this well-intentioned narrative provides only lackluster support for its cause. Environmentalist Fara Ross is famous for her unusual socks and decides to continue this fashion tradition when she campaigns for sixth-grade class president. Her catchy slogan, "Vote for Fara and School Won't Sock," garners support, but Fara struggles when her colorful clothing consumes her identity. When other classmates voice their objections to footwear, Fara organizes the First Sockinental Congress to provide a forum for supporters, though Fara's friendships and campaign suffer as her priorities change. Unfortunately, Fara's self-righteousness will do little to inspire readers. "Fara had resolutely continued to build her reputation as the forward-thinking student who got things accomplished. If someone else in her class was dedicated to causes, Fara wondered why she had yet to meet her..." Repetitive jokes fall flat, dialogue is often dated and contrived characterization stunts this formulaic plot. While there are some memorable moments as Fara matures, the agenda-laden message makes for a didactic debut. (Fiction. 9-12)
Children's Literature - JoAn Watson Martin
Fara accidentally gained a reputation for making a difference when she wore mismatched socks. She came to consider it an issue of personal freedom. When she graduated from elementary school, she received the Originality Award. Fara's family and friends had a sock party for her birthday. They played pin the socks on the feet, ate a sock-shaped pizza, broke a pinata filled with rolled up socks instead of candy. Now, Fara wants to use her reputation to do something to make a real difference. Fara decides to run for sixth grade Student Council, capitalizing on her reputation as Sock Girl. Everyone gets together to make posters and think up slogans, which all relate to socks. Growing tired of sock-related talk and sock-related jokes, Fara rethinks how to best express her individuality. After all, that was really just a wardrobe malfunction. Why can't other people see beyond her feet? Fara hopes letters to the editor and through the mail will help her get elected, and she finds that younger siblings suddenly consider her to be famous. With much team effort and many surprises, the sixth graders learn about elections, politics, and the Sockinental Congress. Reviewer: JoAn Watson Martin

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439163832
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
03/24/2009
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
998,146
Lexile:
870L (what's this?)
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


1. Morning Dew

Fara sat at the kitchen table wearing her breakfast around her pointer finger like a large, doughy ring. She took a bite of the bagel and then spun it a few inches and took another, eating roundward and inward until there was almost nothing left.

"What an inventive way to eat a bagel," her father said as he put on a pot of coffee.

"Why eat the way everyone else eats?" Fara said. "And it's one less plate to wash," she pointed out, "so we're saving water."

"Original, environmentally conscious, and less work for me. I like the sound of that."

"And it's fun," Fara said as she took the last bite. "You should try it."

"Or maybe I'll think of a new way that tops yours."

"If it has to do with juggling, then that's not fair," Fara said. Mr. Ross often juggled the oranges and bananas from the fruit bowl. Though her mother insisted no one was allowed to juggle fruit, Fara got in more trouble than her dad did when she tried.

"If juggling's not allowed, then I'll need a little more time to think. Is the newspaper here?"

"I'll check. I want to make sure it's warm enough to wear shorts, anyway." Fara ran outside without putting her sneakers on. "Yes!" she said because it was nice and warm outside. "Yuck!" she said because morning dew soaked through her right sock. She balanced so as not to get her left wet as well and picked up the paper from the grass. Back inside, she dropped the paper on the table and poked her father's arm. "I wet my right foot getting your newspaper," she said dramatically. She made a fist and raised it in the air. "But I will be okay." Her father sniffled back a fake tear and patted her feet.

Fara went upstairs to her room, scrunching her nose each time the dewy foot hit the stairs. It was not until she'd removed the wet white sock and opened her drawer for a replacement that she realized she was out of white socks. She took out a dark gray pair and pulled one over her right foot. The doorbell rang as she was reaching toward her left foot.

"Fara, Jody's here!" her dad shouted. "Time for school."

Fara and Jody usually met halfway between their houses to walk to school. Fara checked her watch. Sure enough, she was running late, and she still had to pack her backpack.

"Fars!" her dad called. "Jody!"

Fara dropped the gray sock that was in her hand and hopped off her bed. She threw her books and folder into her backpack, then went downstairs and added her lunch. At the sight of Fara pushing her feet into her sneakers, her father laughed out loud. "One less sock to wash, so we're saving water," he said, giving her a thumbs-up.

Fara tilted her head. Confused but short on time, she kissed him good-bye and ran out the door.

"I love it!" gushed Jody while walking to school. "Are you down to the bottom of your sock drawer?" she guessed.

Fara looked down. One nondewy white sock and one dark gray sock were sticking out of her shoes. So that was what her dad had meant by "one less sock to wash." She laughed; she was saving water. "Well -- "

"Oh, I'm dumb," Jody said, shaking her head and making her brown curls fall over her face. "It's because you wanted to match your shirt."

Fara looked at her gray and white Earth Day T-shirt. "Oh, wow," she said. "I didn't even notice that." Her ankles looked funny with the colors alternating as she walked. It was like the gray and white were fighting for precedence, each trying to move ahead of the other.

Jody tucked her hair behind her ears. It fell out again when she jumped in front of Fara to take another guess. "I know. You wanted to make Phillip feel better for that time in second grade when he came to school wearing only one sock by accident."

Fara laughed again. "I forgot about that," she said. "Here." She held out her hand so Jody could take the hair tie she had around her wrist. Fara's straight blond hair was too short to pull into a ponytail, but she always made sure to have a hair tie for Jody.

Jody took the tie and shook Fara's hand in professional thanks. "Oh, I know!"

"It was actually an accident," Fara confessed before Jody could guess again. "My other white sock got wet with morning dew, so I changed it, and then you came and I didn't have time to change the other. But I kind of like it. And it saves water for the wash."

Jody shook her head in amazement. "Even in your accidents you are helping the world. You are the greenest girl on the planet."

Fara beamed. When she and Jody were in second grade, a group called the Green Team came to Harvey Elementary School and did a skit about keeping the earth clean. When they asked who liked to play in the fresh air, lots of kids raised their hands, but Fara raised hers the highest. And when they asked who liked having trees to climb and clean water to drink, Fara clapped and cheered the loudest. And when they had stand everyone who made sure to switch off lights when leaving a room, and who turned off the water while brushing their teeth, and who used recycling bins at home, Fara was the only one who jumped proudly out of her seat every single time. She couldn't believe that all of those things -- things she and her parents had been doing ever since she could remember -- were not things everyone did. Didn't everyone want fresh air to breathe and tall trees to climb and clean water to drink, like the Green Team said? She wondered if her family did other things that were different. Did other kids go through their toys every birthday and pick one to bring to the Goodwill store? And did other families spend Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking food and serving it to people at a homeless shelter? She didn't know why they wouldn't. But then again, she didn't know why they wouldn't always turn off the water when brushing their teeth, either.

The Green Team gave Fara a green star for living in a green house. Phillip Ronkel shouted out, "But Fara's house is white!" and Melodee Simon jumped up, suddenly remembering that she, too, conserved energy and didn't waste water and recycled. The Green Team ended up giving green stars to everyone who promised to do his or her share to make a difference in the world in any way possible. Most of the class did try for the next few days, but Fara tried the hardest. She even tried starting her own Green Team after lunch that day (called the Green Girls, since only girls showed up to the meeting by the monkey bars), but not even Jody wanted to spend recess picking up trash in the playground. Fara wasn't deterred by the fact that she didn't have a team to help her make a difference, however. And she still wasn't now -- she was still trying.

"Well, at least your socks are something new and different," Jody said as the two girls waited to cross the street onto the block where their school was. "Everything has been so the same this whole year."

"That's true," Fara agreed. Both she and Jody had Mrs. Ferrara for fifth grade, the same teacher they'd had in fourth grade. While it was great having her best friend in her class two years in a row, it was pretty boring having the same teacher. Mrs. Ferrara liked to follow the same pattern every day and every week, and she assigned the same types of homework and some of the same exact projects as she had last year. She had even come in wearing the same turkey costume on Thanksgiving, and it wasn't nearly as hilarious the second time around. At least Fara had the other fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Tully, for advanced math, but Jody was in the advanced reading group and the regular math group, both of which were taught by Mrs. Ferrara.

"Mrs. Ferrara keeps saying how next year middle school will be so, so different. It just makes this year seem so, so the same."

"I know," Fara agreed. They stepped onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street. "It'll be fun moving rooms all day. I mean, even if Mrs. Ferrara got moved up to sixth grade, we'd still have six other teachers."

Jody stopped and looked at Fara with wide eyes. "Did you hear that Mrs. Ferrara is moving to sixth grade?" she asked solemnly.

"No, I was just saying. Did you?"

"No."

"Okay," said Fara.

"Okay," said Jody. "Phew."

"How's the last issue of the school newspaper coming?" Fara asked.

Jody raised her eyebrows three times in response. "It's going to be the best one yet," she said. "That's another thing I can't wait for middle school for. The middle school paper comes out every two months, not just twice a year, and there's more to report on, because middle school is a hotbed of activity."

"A hotbed?" Fara asked with a laugh.

"Just wait."

Fara laughed again. "Well, even if it's not a hotbed of activity, at least we only have two more months of the same."

"And your socks are new and different today."

"Yep," said Fara. She grinned. She was happy to bring something new and different to Harvey Elementary School. Thank you, morning dew, she thought.

Jody wasn't the only one to notice Fara's socks that day.

"I think you're wearing mismatched socks," Phillip whispered while they did their morning writing assignment.

"Ha! Look!" shouted Ben Huber when Fara got up to sharpen her pencil.

"Cool," said Dana when she sat back down.

Mrs. Tully winked at her during math.

"You definitely stand out," said Jody during lunch. "Everybody's talking about you."

And they were.

"Some people are just hopeless," said Melodee Simon as everyone was leaving at the end of the day. "Like Fara Ross. Did you see her socks today? Everybody knows socks have to match."

Fara looked at her feet. Everybody thought socks should match. But clearly they didn't have to. It was a free country, with freedom of expression. That's what her parents always told her. Who was to say socks had to match? Certainly not Melodee Simon. Fara would sooner take advice from a two-ton water buffalo than from Melodee Simon.

"Why do you think people always wear matching socks?" Fara asked her parents that night at dinner.

"That's a good question," her mother said, scooping some spaghetti and meatballs into Fara's bowl. "Why did you always wear matching socks until today?"

"Apart from morning dew?"

"Apart from morning dew."

Fara thought. "It looks nice, I guess, and put together."

"Mm-hmm," her mom agreed. "Matching things do look nice together. Like the curtains and the rug in the living room."

"And like this sauce and these meatballs," her father added, pointing with his fork.

"What does that mean?" asked Mrs. Ross. "Does that mean my homemade tomato sauce -- which took two hours to make -- is brown and lumpy?"

"No, I'm saying they match because they're both so delicious," Mr. Ross said half convincingly.

Fara thought some more as she slurped a noodle through her lips. She shrugged. "I guess I always matched my socks because that's just what I always did. It's what everyone does. It's what you taught me," she added. "But this is a free country."

"A lot of people do things just because everyone else does them," Fara's mother pointed out. "But that doesn't mean that you can't deviate from the norm."

"What does that mean?"

"Do your own thing," Fara's dad said. "Like Benny," he continued, referring to one of his employees at Lane's Lanes, the bowling alley he owned. "You've seen Benny bowl. He puts the wrong fingers in the ball, and he takes all these extra steps before he throws it. He definitely deviates from the bowling norm." He shook his head in disbelief. "But he always beats me!"

Fara giggled. She liked Benny, and he did look funny when he bowled. But what was even funnier was her dad's expression every time he lost a game to him. "Deviate from the norm," she said. "I like that."

"That's the great thing about personal freedom, Far," her mom continued. "As long as you aren't hurting anybody, you can deviate from the norm as much as you like."

"And what if you are actually helping someone when you deviate from the norm? And helping the environment?" Fara asked. She thought of how her socks were something new and different for Jody and the rest of her class. And how they saved just a little bit of water for the wash.

"Well, come on, then, Fara," her dad said with a wink. He took a big bite of sauce and meatball and gave his wife a thumbs-up. "It doesn't get much better than that."

That night before Fara went to bed, she looked at the wall above her bookcase, which was where she taped up postcards her old babysitter sent her from various countries in Africa, where she was volunteering with the Peace Corps, and letters from her uncle Alan, who had gone to help set up an orphanage in Bosnia. On the top shelf of the bookcase was a pencil case with a picture of Rosa Parks on the cover, which she had bought in the gift shop during a field trip to the Museum of American History, and a report she wrote last year on Franklin D. Roosevelt, plus the round glasses she'd made out of pipe cleaners to wear during her presentation about him for the class. "It seems like a lot of people who make a difference," she wrote in her journal, "start by deviating from the norm."

She tapped her pencil against her lips, and her eyes traveled to the discarded white and gray socks on the top of her laundry basket. Copyright © 2009 by Elissa Brent Weissman

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