Deep Plunge Between the Lines: Embarrassment

Deep Plunge is a definitive commentary on key aspects of children’s and adolescent literature. Offered freely by Vernon the Reading Primate for the betterment of all reading primates everywhere, it reveals invaluable insights into how books work and why you should read them.

One of the things that come standard as part of adolescence is being embarrassed. Young people are regularly embarrassed by their parents, siblings, family, pets, friends, teachers, and casual acquaintances. They also do it to themselves. A lot. 

Robert Columbo Burnside, the twelve-year-old protagonist of this book, is a master embarrasser. He’s embarrassed by his name, by his mirror-starring sister Libby, and by his salivating baby brother Tuffin. Rob’s parents are no better: they seem to go out of their way to embarrass Rob in every way they can. His mom calls him Ribert and seems to humiliate him even in her sleep. Rob’s dad, in turn, is embarrassing by being notoriously happy, no matter how bad things are. Rob’s pets are even worse. His obese dog Puck is a whiner and eater that barely fits in any door.  Fred the Parrot who escaped from his cage years ago (way to go Fred!), flies around the house, pooping on everything.  How embarrassing!

That’s not even half of it…

If you think things couldn’t get worse for Rob you’re wrong. He’s got a secret crush on his neighbor Janae. The more Rob wants her to like him, the more bizarre he acts: for one episode, see the insert page. On top of it all, Rob is also embarrassed by mysterious and magical characters who regularly emerge from his odd closet. Read this book. You’ll feel better about your own life.

Why it’s important?

Embarrassment, including awkward encounters with the opposite sex, is part of teenage life. Adolescent books are full of awkward situations because embarrassment is a tool for learning about who we are and a stepping stone toward self-confidence. We laugh with Rob, not at him. We know these experiences help him grow. Do you remember any of your teenage embarrassments?

by Marek O. and Vernon

Obert Skye’s Wonkenstein: The Creature from My Closet (2011) is a hilarious fantasy novel for ages

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