Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Squiggly Gets Glasses by Dawn Clark

Title: Squiggly Gets Glasses
Author: Dawn Clark
Illustrated by: Delphine Lacas
Publisher: BQB publishing
Rating: worthy

DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review.

This is another children's book which caught my eye - especially since it’s about wearing eyeglasses, which I do. If you're curious, contacts are too much of a pain and way too high-maintenance for my taste. Eyeglasses are much more efficient for my purposes, even though they, too, have some problems. As Neil deGrasse Tyson explains in episode two of the excellent remake of the Cosmos TV series, eyes originally evolved for use under water, so ours are not exactly at their best in the open air - especially since they're wired backwards).

But I digress! I felt that I ought to be able to relate in a way to Squiggly's problems, but I found that I couldn’t - not really - because his story seems to make light of the potential for friction a bit too much. I know that a story written for children in this age range can’t be completely true to life (if it were, the squirrels wouldn't be in school!), but I don’t think ignoring or glossing over possible problems is the way to go.

The basic story is that Squiggly has trouble reading what his teacher is writing on the board at school, and so has to visit the eye doctor (Dr. Peepers! I appreciated that.). He's kitted-out with new eyeglasses, over which he's thrilled. Unfortunately, it seems that his wearing of eyeglasses is now a panacea, solving all problems, not just his difficulty in reading at distance. The school bully suddenly turns around and becomes his friend, and everyone is on-board. No one makes fun, and Squiggly actually has no issues. Maybe I'm over-thinking this, and I know you have to have a happy ending at this age range, but to present this as pretty-much clear-sailing all the way missed some educational opportunities in my opinion.

The only other issue I had was with the illustrations. They were fine in general for the age range, colorful and large, and full of interest, but they didn’t always appear in the right place in the text and in one case, the letters on the eye chart didn’t match what Squiggly was reading (G, P, T, Y appear nowhere on the chart!). Again, maybe I'm being too harsh, and I can't say if kids listening and following along with this, and seeing these pictures, would even notice something like that, or be concerned with it, but whether they do or not, it seemed to me that in a book which has as its topic, reading accuracy, the discrepancy between what Squiggly was saying he saw, and what actually appeared on the eye chart seemed a bit much, especially when Dr. Peepers (I love that name!) was indicating that although he needed glasses, Squiggly was fine with some of the letters! Maybe the print edition will fix some of the placement problems.

Those picky issues aside (hey, they ask for an honest review!), I think this story is perfectly fine. It has plenty of fun illustration and an interesting story, and it definitely will make children think a bit, both about dealing with problems, and about avoiding creating problems. I’d like to have seen that explored a bit more, but making kids think is always a good thing. There's plenty of opportunity for parent-/guardian-child discussion here, so all-in-all, I recommend this.

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