Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kid Konnection: From funny to thoughtful

The following books were a hit in my house this last month. One is about two hilarious rodents who are always hungry, the second about learning what can help our bodies function better, and the third about a homeless man with a big heart.

The Vole Brothers by Roslyn Schwartz
(Rated: C)
ISBN: 978-1926818832
Published Aug 30, 2011
Harcover, 32 pages

My son declared it “the cutest book ever” and loved the colored pencil drawings. He's right! The Vole brothers are simply adorable!

This is the fun tale of two ravenous rodents who will stop at nothing to get their tummies filled, even daring to outsmart a fat cat to get some delicious food. While we giggled at the tenacity and antics of the Vole brothers we also felt the suspense build as we wondered if they were finally going to get what they were after.

The dialogue is written in speech bubbles giving this book a little of a comic book feel. I was pleasantly surprised that although the text is very simple, the story is rich because of the illustrations and the onomatopoeia (words that represent the sound they imitate) such as beep, crunch and slurp that are spread throughout the book.

This is a feel-good, funny book with the message to never give up. Parents will get a kick out of reading it to their youngsters as much as the kids will enjoy the vivacity of those lovable rodents. We loved reading it together. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

What Do You Use to Help Your Body? by Jewel Kats (Rated: C)
Loving Healing Press
ISBN: 978-1615990825
Published May 28, 2011
Softcover, 28 pages

Having worked with children and adults with disabilities, I am always interested in books that feature ways for children to learn more about other people's disabilities. This book proved to be one of those books. It allows for parents to open up a discussion on being different.

Maggie goes out on a walk with her mom, who has made it a special walk because she has arranged for Maggie to meet people who use different things to help their bodies. My children thought it was interesting because they learned about assistive devices, such as hearing aids, prosthesis, guide dogs and communication boards--something my children thought was cool. In addition to meeting people with various disabilities, they are from different cultures, too, adding realism to the story. We began to talk about people we knew who used assistive devices such as my children's Grandma who wears a hearing aid.

Children have a natural curiosity about devices but sometimes seeing a person very different from them may be scary. I remember working in a school with a boy who had an artificial leg he shlepped to school every day and put on so he could learn to walk without his wheelchair. The kids in his class avoided him simply because that leg freaked them out until the day we got the whole class to sit in a circle and listen to the boy explain all about his leg. Then suddenly it was the coolest thing! The kids now wanted to touch it and see how it worked.

I wish I had had this book to introduce those kids to assistive devices because I think it's a good resource for educators, especially those who have disabled kids integrated in their classrooms. It is simple to read, shows insight on the feelings of disabled people, and serves as an educational tool as well. Older kids would need a book with more depth but this one is ideal for the 4-8 year-old target audience.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Abe's Lucky Day by Jill Warren (Rated: C)
Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1432773052
Published July 7, 2011
Softcover, 32 pages

I was happy to win this book and share it with my children. It exposed my children to what life is like for someone with no home. It opened up a discussion about homelessness and what it means to be kind.

The story is about a homeless man named Abe. No explanation is given about why he is homeless but only that his family lives far away and he is all alone in a big, noisy city. I appreciated this because it left little room for racial prejudice. Abe is a kind, considerate man who helps others even when the majority may think that in some of the situations it would have been understandable had he acted self-serving. Again, I appreciated this because it made me reflect on the Holocaust survivors who had been kind to their cellmates even at great cost to themselves.

Abe gets a chance to change his life and he is grateful. He finds himself lucky not for this reason but because he had the opportunity to help several people throughout the course of his day. The illustrations are simple but colorful and suggestive.

This book was fruit for thought for me and my children. The sadness of Abe's homelessness was tapered by his generosity toward others, his positive outlook despite his grim life situation, and the hopeful tone of the book. I found this a deeply reflective and well-written story.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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  1. The Vole Brothers looks like it is adorable! The drawing on the cover would pull me in.

  2. Great reviews! I had to laugh that there is a book about voles. We have them in our yard and my husband goes crazy trying to get rid of them. I would love to get him a copy of this book.

  3. I agree with your son about The Vole Brothers: they are adorable! Wish I had a little one to read this delightful sounding book to.


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