Note: Ordinarily, I won’t promote the books of celebrities, as they have the power to market their own, and don’t need my help. However, this time I’m reviewing two, deciding it is more important to put the messages of these particular books before you, so you can share them with your children.
The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
Couric shares in this book, an extremely important message about children lending compassion and kindness to other kids who are singled out for their differences and bullied. It is a great launch for parent-child discussions, building empathy, and constructing bridges instead of walls with others. There is an amusing rhyme scheme that children love! Who hasn’t experienced the anxiety of being new to an environment, and seen other people being criticized or left out because they were somehow different from the rest of the group? The illustrations by Marjorie Priceman are fun, quirky, and cute! I’d love to see this basic story adapted to middle and high schoolers, where acceptance and empathy are so intensely needed.
This is a delightful book that encourages children to dream about what they want to do with their lives. Most children dream of becoming something important. Poppy the pig is no exception. In this book, she dreams of being a big star, and tries out singing, dancing, and modeling. Her family loves and supports her unconditionally through these different endeavors. Those in charge of her activities though, discourage her from these pursuits. Poppy persists though, until she finds success in something she loves. When she finds her activity, Poppy fails at first. Then she practices diligently, develops her skills, and succeeds. I think it is so important to show kids that dreams, as great as they are, don’t just happen magically, even when they have gifts or talents. Everything worth having is worth working towards. A must-read with wonderful illustrations by Tim Bowers.
I enjoyed this book, being a dog lover! I have a cocker spaniel who is sometimes inclined toward naughtiness. She chases cats off her property at every opportunity, and dashes across the street in hot pursuit without watching for cars. She worries me so when she does that! Everyone who’s had a pet can relate to this story. Pinkerton makes a habit of doing the opposite thing his family wants him to do. He even flunked out of obedience school! However, his oppositional ways really come in handy when an intruder dares to break in the family’s home. The illustrations are great, and portray this loveable mutt as he is–big, sloppy, friendly, and a bit of a nuisance, but a loved one!. There was a real Pinkerton. This is a book from the way back machine—1979! Some of you may remember Pinkerton from your own childhoods.
A lovely story with fabulous illustrations by Greg Shed, printed from paintings. A young girl saves a larva and her grandfather helps her raise it, and keep it safe through its metamorphosis, until the beautiful butterfly is freed. Then she gets a gift she never imagined. I’m not going to spoil the surprise! It is perhaps a metaphor for good karma. The end of the book also shows kids how to raise a larva. Any book that inspires gentleness in anyone is wonderful in my book!
An interesting read! A boy wishes his parents weren’t so weird. He feels embarrassed by them clowning around, but doesn’t realize other people enjoy the fun they create. Then he wishes all parents were this weird, but realizes it isn’t possible, as this would make the weirdness common, and therefore, no longer weird. This book is unique—the lead character is simply referred to as “a boy” or “my son.” He hasn’t a proper name. I’m guessing this was done to keep his story more universal to readers. Naming him would make it a story about “Jimmy” or “Peter” and his weird parents. Not naming him lets it be about anyone. Feeling one’s parents are weird is not extraordinary. Probably every kid feels that way at some point. The illustrations are oddly fun. This boy realizes he enjoys aspects of their weirdness, and loves and accepts his parents as they are.
This was an intriguing book, aimed at the 6 and up crowd. It is written from the perspective of a young girl who is trying to solve a mystery from the 1920’s in India. Her father is a detective. The illustrations are quite nicely done by Roger Roth. Two tiny girls are brought to an orphanage in India. The girls are thought to have been raised by wolves. They walk on all fours, and have other wolf type characteristics. Though the missionary man who takes the girls in to his orphanage seems to have good intentions, he does exploit them for profit. There is a wealth of new vocabulary words to learn. These words are well-explained. The harm of gossip is portrayed, and ethical problems are brought up, but not expounded on. The issues may provide a good discussion with kids.
My only qualm with this book is that it introduces topics I think are too emotionally loaded for kids who are under 9 or 10 years old. There is enough tragedy and hard things that go on in the world, and the media blasts these across televisions on a daily basis. I find myself wanting to protect children from these things as long as possible. Kids today have enough to contend with in our world. Additonally, children being raised by wolves, isn’t a necessary evil to require a cautionary tale. Your kids aren’t going to run up against children with this problem in their schools, on playdates, or anywhere else. The only value I can see in subjecting younger children to this story, is to evoke empathy in them towards others who have been greatly disadvantaged. It is a painful story that is quite tragic.
Stay tuned! More book reviews coming very soon! The next group are all artistically inclined…………….