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review 2017-12-19 02:39
A cute little book with some important hurricane safety lessons for kids
Elephant Wind (Mom's Choice Award Winner) - Heather L Beal

So the day care is having a field trip to a science fair and the local tornado siren goes off, the teacher rushes the kids to the shelter and then starts answering questions for the frightened kids. She calms them, tells them what's going on and how they (and their parents) can stay safe in the middle of a tornado. It's a great way to respond to a time like this and a great way to lure in the readers so they will absorb the same lessons.

 

Now, I'm not convinced that you're going to get kids living in an area that has the tornado shelters and sirens, etc. that are that old and not have some clue about what's going on (sure, maybe a couple of people who've just moved into the area, but not that many) -- but this book isn't trying to go for accuracy, it's trying to teach something. Like, say, about tornado shelters and sirens to kids so they know what they are before being taken to a shelter by their day care teacher. Basically, sure, it's a plot problem, but this book doesn't care about things like that.

 

Storywise, it's just different enough from Tummy Rumble Quake (well, this was actually published first, I guess, but I read them in this order. Still, technically, Tummy Rumble Quake is just different enough from this), which is a pretty tricky thing to pull off, but will keep some kids from tuning out -- it's not just a case of "here we go again." The ways to stay safe are clear, and will help minimize the fearfulness of the situation.

Again, on behalf of parents with little musical ability, some tips on how to sing this mnemonic song (a tune suggestion, perhaps), would be very helpful and welcome. The inclusion of the song is a great idea.

 

Sager's art did the job -- good use of colors and details, without overwhelming the reader and distracting them from the text. The tornado-elephant mashup pictures were an inspired choice -- one suggested by the text, no doubt, but the execution was spot-on.

A wonderful idea and I'm pretty sure a great help for those in areas where this is a lesson to be taught. I'd encourage parents and others to grab this one, too.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/12/18/elephant-wind-by-heather-l-beal-jubayda-sager
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review 2017-12-19 02:32
A cute little book w/some important earthquake safety lessons for kids
Tummy Rumble Quake (Mom's Choice Award Winner) - Heather L Beal

So the class (or whatever you call them) at this day care center is prepping for something called the Great ShakeOut (apparently a real thing -- I'm glad to hear that it exists), which is an Earthquake Preparedness activity. As part of that, they learn a bit about what causes earthquakes, what to do during one to say safe, and get some questions answered about the safety of others.

 

So you get a little bit of a narrative -- just enough to give the kids something to hang on to -- and you run it through some basic lessons that are given in a way to help the reader (or person being read to) remember and learn from them. I don't know if seismologists would use the comparison to a rumbling tummy, but how many of them write children's books? It's a comparison that'll stick.

 

My main -- really, only -- gripe with this is the song. There's no way to know how to sing this -- I'm sure it's best set to a familiar tune, but I have no idea what would work. I'd want to sing this to any kids I read this to/with -- and I have so little musical ability that there's no way I could even begin to guess what it should sound like. It's a great idea, and just the kind of thing that'd help cement the lessons in the mind of the target audience. But without a tune, it's just a little rhyme that isn't nearly as effective.

 

Sager's art does the job -- the colors are great and eye-catching. It's clearly drawn on a computer, but retains a hand-drawn feel. I can't say I was dazzled by it, but I can also say that I've seen worse. I can't imagine many children in the target audience wouldn't find the illustrations suitable and effective (but probably not in those words).

 

This book is such a great idea -- really. I like the concept, I think the execution is good, too. This is the kind of thing that'll implant itself in little brains and stay there for years. Parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents, and so on would really do well to pick this up and put it in front of young eyes.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/12/18/tummy-rumble-quake-by-heather-l-beal-jubayda-sager
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review 2017-11-06 02:30
Wintergirls - review
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Wow. This book is relentless, intense, and depressing...

That being said, it also seems realistic. It chronicles Lia's descent into anorexia and self-harm. Her best friend was bulemic and has died at the beginning of the book. She tried to call Lia multiple times on the night she died, but Lia didn't answer. The guilt Lia feels contributes to her decline. She has been in and out of treatment and knows how to fool the system. Her mother, father, and stepfather don't know how to reach her or what to do to help her anymore. How do you help someone who is determined to hurt themselves?

 

This book is a difficult read and not for the faint of heart. I didn't enjoy it at all, but I did learn from it and I do see the value in it. Thus my 3 star review. Anderson describes what Lia looks like and what she does to her body in graphic detail. So, beware.

 

I think this could be a good book for teens or their parents to read. Teens may see themselves and see hope or realize what could happen to them. Adults can see the pressures that today's teens face on a daily basis. I think books about these issues are important when they show the whole situation in a realistic light. Anderson does an amazing job of getting inside Lia's head and showing us her thought process.

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review 2017-05-04 18:42
Art brings hope, even in war...
Amina: Through My Eyes - Lyn White,J.L. Powers

 

The debris was her canvas, the detritus of war her personal collection of art materials. And the itch in her fingertips drove her to keep creating, no matter how dangerous it was to do it.

- Chapter 1

 

She wanted both freedom and safety but she knew that was impossible.

- Chapter 1

 

Sometimes she forgot the fear, but when she remembered, it was worse than if she'd never forgotten. Because what kind of person could forget that you were living in the middle of a warzone?

- Chapter 8

 

Amina is 14-years old and she lives in Mogadishu. Her home has been damaged in the war. When her father is arrested and her brother is kidnapped by rebel forces, she is left to provide for her pregnant mother and ailing grandmother.

 

Amina is a brave girl who feels vulnerable and abandoned. She creates street art to help deal with her feelings and also to encourage people to feel hopeful. I liked Amina's character a lot. She tries her best to be strong, but she is also vulnerable. The story ends on a note of hope even though there is also sadness.

 

This book is part of the Through My Eyes series that chronicles the lives of children caught up in contemporary conflicts. The themes of courage, determination, and perseverance appear throughout the series. I think young people will enjoy this series and it could help promote empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

 

Amina isn't preachy, and it gave me an understanding of the conflict in Somalia that I never had before. 

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review 2017-04-22 05:12
Two teenage boys figuring out their identity and their friendship...
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

 

 

This is an amazing book that seems to truly understand the minds of teenage boys trying to navigate life. It appeals to both boys and girls who are trying to figure out their identity and their lives. Dante seems to know who he is from the beginning, but Aristotle (Ari) is constantly worrying about the fact that he doesn't know who he is or what he wants.

 

Some of the students in my class found Ari's angst to be more than a bit annoying, but I really enjoyed this book. I felt for Ari, even though, at times, I didn't really understand why he was so angry. Dante didn't always understand it either. However, I am certain I was just as confused and confusing as a teenager (especially to my mom). And now, I have my own teenage daughter. Her moods are more than a bit unpredictable and confusing; so now I know what my mother felt like.

 

I think teens, especially those questioning their sexuality, will enjoy this book.

 

Recommended to:

Grades 9-12, both boys and girls. 

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