Showing posts with label children's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children's. Show all posts

Monday, June 26, 2017

Jilly's Terrible Temper Tantrums by Martha Heineman Pieper, Jo Gershman

Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a confusing effort for me because it appears as though it's a children's book when it really isn't at all. Instead, it's aimed at adults, but it's written like it's for children. It makes me think the author didn't quite known how to approach this topic from a children's perspective and ended-up stuck somewhere in the middle. In some ways it felt like an advertising flyer for the author's textbook on raising children with Smart Love® - and yes, the two words are indeed a registered trademark! I found it particularly odd that someone, particularly a charitable organization, should seek to register smart love as a trade mark.

That said, I don't disagree with the approach championed here, but I have to say that it takes the patience of Job to do that kind of thing when a child is as far gone down the Tantrum Trail as the one depicted here is. Of course it's never too late to try, but I doubt such a child would be brought around in three or four easy lessons as is shown here!

So overall I can't rate this a worthy read, much less as a children's book. It's too muddled, and too simplistic for adults, and as far as entertaining children, it's not really a story. It just a parade of exemplars of how parents should relate to a troublesome child in various circumstances - more like a checklist than a story.

I have to report a problem with this in Bluefire Reader, which is the app I normally use to read ARCs on the iPad. Bluefire Reader typically does a sterling job with illustrated books, but here, it failed completely. The images were broken up, speech balloons were blank, and the text was all over the place, and so enlarged it was illegible. I was about to ditch the book as unreadable when I decided out of curiosity to look at it on the smartphone I have, and there, it was quite legible, so again out of curiosity, I downloaded the epub version to look at on my desktop in Adobe Digital Editions, and it was perfectly fine there, too, so if you're planning on buying this, don't expect to read it in Bluefire reader. You;ll need some other app for once!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Emma and Snowbell by Mary Lee

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the last of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Christmas. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Christmas story follows the rhythm of Jingle Bells. The composer of the original rhyme, James Lord Pierpont, is offered no credit for the song the author riffs off, which is sad, but since it was composed in the mid-nineteenth century, I guess that's the way it goes when your copyright expires! Jingle Bells, originally title One Horse Open Sleigh, tells of sleigh races which were held in the early nineteenth century./p>

Emma doesn't have a sleigh, one horse open or otherwise, so she's trudging through the snow until a reindeer takes pity on her and gives her a ride - in the sky, as reindeer are wont to do. I liked this story. The do-over of the song was amusing and the artwork was, as usual, fun, so I recommend this one.

Emma Had a Little Turkey by Mary Lee

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the second of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Thanksgiving. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Thanksgiving story follows the rhythm of Mary Had a Little Lamb. The composer of the original rhyme, either Sarah Josepha Hale, or John Roulstone (or both!), are offered no credit which is sad, but since it was composed almost two hundred years ago, I guess that's the way it goes when your copyright expires! The interesting thing is that it was written about a real person, Mary Sawyer, who actually did have a pet lamb she took to school with her one day - I guess for ewe and tell?!

That said, Mary Lee's re-wording of the song is amusing. The turkey's feathers are soft as snow, and it followed her everywhere, including to a school soccer game where it proved to be such an adept player that the team won the game! I liked this story and the amusing rhyme, and again the artwork was sweet, so I recommend this one.

You Are My Pumpkin by Mary Lee

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the first of three reviews of children's books by Mary Lee. They're seasonal, and this one is obviously aimed at Halloween. The little girl who is at the heart of these stories is named Emma, which happens to be the name of a niece of mine as well as the title of a Jane Austen novel.

Each of the three novels has rhyming text patterned after a song or a nursery rhyme. The Halloween story follows the rhythm of You Are My Sunshine. The composer of the original song is somewhat of a mystery, but is apparently thought to be Paul Rice. The author offers no history or credit for any of the songs she riffs on, which is sad.

That said, her re-wording of the song is amusing. Instead of 'sunshine', we get 'pumpkin', as Emma views skies that are black with bats instead of blue with sunshine, on Halloween night, and she plays with the owls. I found it a bit sad that the author retained the line "you'll never know pumpkin ['dear' in the original] how much I love you" - I would have thought that loving parents would find ways to communicate that much! They may not understand the cost of such love, but kids sure understand its power.

That said, I liked the story and the easy rhyme and the fun artwork, so I recommend this one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kid Artists by David Stabler, Doogie Horner

Rating: WORTHY!

p114: 'permanent' should be 'permanent'.
"a magazine published an article about him entitled" There was no entitlement here. There was a title: the magazine published an article titled "Keith Haring"!

Note that this was an advance review copy I obtained from Net Galley. Thanks to the publisher for the chance to read it!

What a great idea for a book: talk about the adventurous, mischievous, slightly scary and unusual lives of renowned artists and maybe it will put modern kids' lives into perspective and even inspire some of them to go for it! This is part of a series featuring books on Kid Athletes and on Kid Presidents. I haven't read any of the others, so I can't speak to them, but I'd sure like to see one on Kid Scientists or Kid Engineers. We need a lot more of those than we ever do presidents and athletes.

This one was fine, though. Here we learn of Leonardo da Vinci and the scary shield he painted when he was fourteen, and of Vincent van Gogh who shared Leonardo's love of solitude and nature when he was a kid. We meet the young Beatrix Potter, who had a grisly adventure in Scotland, who kept a coded diary, and who once again, turned her love of nature into her art. Perhaps a love of nature is a defining characteristic, because eccentric Emily Carr shared it, to the chagrin of her sisters, and she got no credit at all for decorative fingernails which are now quite popular! A fellow nature lover was rebel Georgia O'Keeffe, a contemporary of Beatrix Potter. Leah Berliawski not only changed countries but also her name, before she changed her life and became an artist!

The book is replete with such stories: Ted Geisel, Jackson Pollack, Charles Schulz, Yoko Ono, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, Jacob Lawrence, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and last but certainly not least: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso! There are interesting stories for each of them, and many of them led lives which were problematic for one reason or another, but none of them let this interfere with their vision and their dedication. The book is inspirational.

The only error I found (short of researching every story for inaccuracies which I'm not about to do!) was the idea that snakes are poisonous? Venomous? yes! But I'm not aware of any snake which, if eaten, will poison you! Not that I've eaten many snakes. Or any for that matter! But that's a common error and shouldn't get in the way of enjoying a book that will, hopefully, encourage many kids to pursue their own vision whether it's in art, literature, or any other field of endeavor. Don't let difficulties wear you down - go for your vision! I recommend this.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The STEM Club Goes exploring by Lois Melbourne, Jomike Tejido

Rating: WORTHY!

With some nice artwork by Jomike Tejido, and enthusiastic writing by Lois Melbourne , this story offers a much-needed glimpse into the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), which are important and useful fields of endeavor and which need smart people, particularly females, who are under-represented in these fields. We are quickly introduced to Betik, Fran (who has ambitions to become a science and technology reporter), Jenny, Jesse, Nixie, Sara, and Winston, who is interested in marine biology.

Fran is narrating this report as the children are taken by a teacher to interview people in various fields and learn about them. They look at software development, medical care, mining, and several other fields. I'm not sure we got the best perspectives on everything, and it felt to me like there ought to have been more emphasis on the environment, and perhaps on robotics (and it would have been nice to have it made clear that software engineering has applications in fields other than game development!), but on the other hand, you have to deliver something which will keep a child's interest, so as long as we have something focusing on STEM, I'm not going to worry too much about the minutiae.

If I had 'complaints' - other than that the traffic lights didn't seem to be working on page 36! Either that or the cab is going through on red and going straight into a head-on collision with a bus! - they would be very minor. There are some enlarged initial caps used here, which are a pale blue and hard to see. On one page I thought the letter was missing until I looked more closely. Also the double pages don't work in the e-version because you see them in sequence, not as a spread like you would in the print version. But other than that, the layout and general looks of the book were great, and I think it's a worthy read. Its heart is certainly in the right place.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Love my Dog by David Chuka

Rating: WARTY!

From the auhtor of such literary efforts as Billy and the Monster who Loved to Fart and Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers comes yet another disaster: a book about dogs (and yes, there are fart jokes in this book). Two kids, boy and girl, are excited to go find their first pet dog, but never once is the animal pound considered. All the dogs featured here are so-called "pure bred". The first dog is an Alaskan Malamute, and though the story is initially narrated by the sister, when we meet the dog, it describes its own role, but it says, "Do you know man still uses me as a sled dog...." I think a gender -neutral word would have been better, as in "Do you know that people still use me as a sled dog...." There's no reason at all to imply that only men can do this. Not in a year when we're newly celebrating the fact that the US finally wised-up and let women have their run of the army!

We also meet a Schnauzer (and yes, the name does come from snout, but it refers to the dog looking like it has a moustache!), an old English Sheepdog, a Poodle (the second most intelligent breed of dog, believe it or not), Dalmatian, Collie, Greyhound, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Golden Retriever, and several others.

We learn only a very small amount about each dog, and while we do learn a bit about the down side of dog ownership, we don't learn anything, really, about what is potentially the most important thing about these 'pure bred' dogs, which is that inbreeding leads to awful deficits in too many of these animals. These problems range from, for example, deafness and hyperuricemia in the Dalmatian, to heart disease in the Boxer, to hip dysplasia in the German shepherd, to breathing problems in bulldogs, and other issues, such as mitral valve disease in the King Charles Spaniel (although this dog is not featured in this book).

I would have preferred a book that mentioned the options available and talked more about how much care, attention, and outright love a pet needs, as well as what it costs in buying the dog in the first place, and then in ongoing outlay for food, toys, bedding, and vet bills for routine visits alone. I can't recommend this book because it lacks far too much important information and kids deserve so much better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lillian's Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, Shane W Evans

Rating: WORTHY!

Yes, it's definitely Jonah month on my blog. I've not only reviewed two novels with characters named Jonah, I now have a young children's picture book penned by a Jonah! This one is about exercising your right to vote. I remember some time ago someone coming to my door trying to 'get out the vote', and I expressed my refusal to do so, and she tried to lecture me that it was my duty to vote. No, it's my right to vote. It's my duty to exercise that vote or withhold it according to my conscience, and that year I was not going to hypocritically vote for person A simply to deny person B, when I couldn't stand A or B!

Lillian is a black female senior citizen - based on real life Lillian Allen (no, not that Lillian Allen, the other one) - and even though it means climbing this huge hill at her age, she is going to vote. When she looks up that hill into the blue sky, Lillian sees more than an opportunity to share in governance; she sees her great-great grandparents being sold in front of that same courthouse, where only white men were allowed to vote.

As Jonah Winter's writing is stirring, Shane Evans's artwork is rich, and intriguing, carrying an illusion of texture, just as the voting system carried an illusion of equality. It doesn't matter how impressive it is that a law was passed way back in 1870 denying exclusion based on race, color or previous condition of servitude, if the right people make the wrong decisions, the vote is lost.

This was the fifteenth amendment to the US constitution - the constitution which the founding fathers supposedly did such a brilliant job on! If the white folks in power could find a way to prevent the colored folks from voting, they found it and used it. They still do. Poll taxes may no longer be valid, but other methods are used now. Because the U.S. Declaration of Independence declared that all men are created equal, women didn't get the vote until the nineteenth amendment, half a century later!

Written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, this book makes for a really good read. It's an important piece of history and well-worth reading to your children. I recommend it, but what I would like to see is a book like this about true empowerment, because despite bullshit web sites which claim to show that one vote is important, it really isn't. Lots of one votes pulling together are very important, but one, by itself, in an election where there are thousands of votes, makes no difference, not when your only voting options are limited to those with money, and essentially to an unchanging binary "choice" between A or B, since few who don't kow-tow to those two major parties ever get elected. It makes no difference even if your vote does count if it's really a vote for those who kiss the asses of lobbyists for big business - monkey business which can and does derail pristine legislation.

What I'd like to see is a story about how a child can grow up and become an honest, independent representative, voting for what's best for the nation regardless of what vested interests try to rationalize.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

Rating: WARTY!

If I had known that this was a Newbery honor book (1955) I never would have read it. I avoid honor and medal-winning books like the plague because in my experience, they're universally trashy. This one dates from 1954, when people were a lot more clueless than they are now. It's very short - only one CD, which is the best thing about, it since it really has nothing to offer.

The book blurb claims, rather dishonestly, that this is a "true story of Sarah's journey", but the truth is that only the barest facts are known: that Sarah and her father traveled to this locale to build a new home, and that Sarah was in the care of the native Americans for about three weeks. That's it! Everything else in this story is the purest fiction. Indeed, the journey is very short in the book. Nearly all of the story is about events taking place at the destination, not about the journey at all.

No one knows why Sarah went or what exactly, she did. They sure as hell don't have a clue what she said or thought, or how she interacted with her father or with the locals. They have no idea what Mrs Robinson or her kids actually said. All we have is Alice Dalgliesh's very creative and very dated fiction, colored by the 1950s and by Dalgliesh's religious faith, not by the early eighteenth century and anything which happened in reality.

The locals were the Schaghticoke, whom Sarah and her father met after they had made the fifty mile journey. Not far by our standards, but a week-long journey by theirs, taken on foot. I find it extremely hard to believe that she knew so little about these people before she got there. The very fact that her father leaves her in the care of the locals shows that he obviously knew they were no danger at all. Courage doesn't enter into it, and whatever strength this girl showed here was no greater than scores of other children have exhibited. Even surviving getting lost in the store or in the mall takes courage. This was no different from that that, and Sarah Noble's "courage" was of no greater order than this. The reason given in this work of fiction for her father's leaving her with the locals is laughable: that it was a long journey? It was exactly the same journey she'd just made, so this is purest bullshit and poor writing.

They saddest thing about the arrival of the Nobles was that they pretty much stamped their colonial imprint on the place the moment they arrived. The place was originally named something beautiful like Weantinogue. Now it's the pedestrian and mundane 'New Milford'. The river, at least, still retains some majesty. It's unnamed in the book, but is now known as the Housatonic, which is indeed a welcome tonic, but there was no attempt made to understand the locals or their culture. Their very names were changed to suit the colonials. Given that native American names tended to change with maturity, behaviors, and endeavors, perhaps this wasn't quite the nuisance or pain to them that we perceive it to be today, but it's still immensely disrespectful to simply change someone's name because their actual name is "too hard".

That said, I've seen some rather blinkered reviews which take this novel to task for what they describe as racism. I'm sorry, but they simply don't get it. This novel depicts a young girl's views, not the author's, and not any politically correct or incorrect agenda. Depicting a young girl as seeing native Americans for the first time, and observing that they are brown, and observing that they "talk funny" or that they don't speak English has nothing to do with being racist. It has to do with accurately describing how the girl might have really felt back then. Depicting her playing with the children, even riding on the back of one of them isn't enslaving the natives or demeaning them. It's depicting what might well have happened. A native American can't carry a white kid on his back across a river - by his own choice - without being subjugated?! Nonsense! I think observations of that nature about this book are lamentably short sighted and biased.

The biggest problem for me with this novel is that it tells us nothing which we cannot more ably learn from better books. Alice Dalgliesh is not by any means an expert on colonial life, or on the Schaghticoke, and this novel, commendably enlightened as it is for the time it was written, once again goes only to prove what a colossal waste of time it is reading Newbery medal winners. I dis-recommend this book for these reasons, but primarily for it being pure fiction masquerading as fact.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Rating: WORTHY!

I recommend this Scholastic Voyages of Discovery book about mammals. It's yet another in a series which offers engaging and colorful images, and introduces our closest cousins in evolution's majestic and historic portrait of life on Earth. Ideal for young children. it has gorgeous images depicting the diversity of life and the inventiveness of evolution in equipping that life to survive, something which I am wondering will apply to the poor tiny male spider which is even now in my back yard playing a silent melody on the huge female's web, no doubt desperately hoping, in his spiderly way, that he will be lover and not lunch. This book is really well done and even has a page that I thought was really neat where the footprint tracks of several different animals, including giraffe, deer, cheetah, rabbit, and kangaroo, and impressed in the page so you can not only see them, but run your fingers over the page and feel them. Wonderful, I would have loved this as a kid, and I recommend it.

Musical Instruments

Rating: WORTHY!

I recommend this one from Scholastic, which aims to teach the instruments of the orchestra and elsewhere - facilitated with a map showing different kinds of music on different continents. As other books in this series, it is full of attractive and illustrative images, and it offers a really good and useful basic grounding in musical instruments for young children.

There's a page showing how music is annotated, so you know the score, a page showing how an orchestra is arrayed radially and radiantly, and a page of stickers for children to apply in applicable locations throughout the book, so you'll stick with it. A wealth of information suitable for the child's mind so they can see sharp and not be flat. Not to harp on it, but recommend this one to stave off boredom and cause the scales to fall from your kid's eyes! Make a note. This could be key to your child's education!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Architecture and Construction

Rating: WORTHY!

I recommend this one for Scholastic which aims to teach the beauty and joy of architecture. As other books in this series, it is full of attractive and illustrative images, and it really highlights how entrancing really good architecture can be. It begins with a quick overview of construction from something as ostensibly simple as an igloo, to the huge buildings in modern cities, but it also focuses not just on the buildings, but how and with what they are built. It talks of the materials - including the glass and iron of the Victorian Crystal Palace, now better known as a soccer team than an expo building as it happens! I recommend this.

Our Changing Planet

Rating: WORTHY!

I recommend this educational book about how geological and other events change Earth. It's colorfully illustrated and has lots of fold-outs and fun things on every page to engage young minds and keep interest.

It has images such as one which shows how it would look were the Pacific ocean drained away and you could see the topography way down on the bottom. It has in-depth views of volcanic activity, something which has changed history on our planet as well as preserved magnificent treasures such as the footprints at Laetoli, and it has fascinating images, such as the large fold-out comparison of a modern view of Earth's continents side-by-side with one which shows how people thought the world looked before it was properly charted. I recommend this book for engaging young minds.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels

Title: The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
Author: Anne Michaels
Publisher: Tundra Books
Rating: WORTHY!

Illustrated by Emma Block

This is a highly whimsical book with a delightfully British tone. The author is Canadian, and though I don't normally care what authors look like, I have to say that I have seen a picture of her and she has an awesome look to her - like a character from a novel herself! It's written I assume, for younger readers, but it delighted me. It reminded me of several other books even as it proudly exhibited its own unique take on life. There's an element of Gail Carriger in it, also a touch of TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. It's sparsely illustrated in a child-like style, but the pictures are perfect for the story. The text is large, so the novel is very short. It consists of several stories linked only by the characters, so you can comfortably read them in any order.

Miss Petitfour has several cats: Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Clothespin, Clasby, Earring, Grigorovitch, Hemdela, Minky, Misty, Moutarde, Mustard, Pirate, Purrsia, Sizzles, Taffy, Your Shyness (although not necessarily in that order) and they are a lively bunch who like to travel with her by table cloth to the village, the cats clinging to each other's tail.

If you've never traveled by table cloth, I do advise it, but please remember that you must match the table cloth color and pattern to the needs of the day, and that you have to be prepared to visit only the stores to which the prevailing wind takes you on any given trip. Thus enabled, the five stories are these:

Miss Petitfour and the rattling Spoon - when Miss Petitfour runs out of marmalade, it's a crisis with which I fully empathize, and which must be addressed forthwith!

Miss Petitfour and the Jumble. Every five years the village has a jumble sale, so you know it must be high time to open the junk cupboard. Or is that wise?

Miss Petitfour and the Penny Black. The Penny Black is a very rare and extremely valuable British stamp from the Victorian days, and is the pride of Miss Petitfour's collection, so what do you think will happen when it happens to blow out of the window on a snowy day?

Miss Petitfour and the Birthday Cheddar. Adventures on birthdays are particularly adventurous when you're a table cloth short of a picnic, and there's a chilly river nearby.

Miss Petitfour and the "Oom". Miss Petitfour hears an Oom! While she has definitely not lost the Oom in her life, she does hear two of them. What on Earth is that noise and does it have anything to do with the confetti factory? Miss P and the cats find they must abandon the annual festooning festival to go in search of odd noises.

The novelty of the stories for me tended to wear off a bit the more I read of them, but this is probably a case of familiarity breeds discontent. I found myself wondering if I had read them starting with the last first, whether I might have found the first less adorable than I did and the last more, but of course there is no way to do that now! I recommend this book as a really fun read, but you might want to pace yourself and spread the stories out over several days so you don't become a dissatisfied glutton for them. Maybe keep the book in the bathroom and read a story each day, or read them to your kids one per night? The bottom line is that we need stories of this nature and I'm glad we have them and that I read them. This is a worthy read.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Great Depression for Kids by Cheryl Mullenbach

Title: The Great Depression for Kids
Author: Cheryl Mullenbach
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Rating: WORTHY!

This is a fascinating story aimed at kids to help them understand that no matter how bad things got a couple of years ago with the Bush depression, things were far worse in the 1930’s as government cluelessness, the runaway greed of blind capitalism, and even nature herself conspired to put more than one in every ten people out of work. There were sad children, and marches on Washington put down with police brutality, and a heck of a lot of hungry people with no one to help them. It was like American became a third world country for a while.

People like to think of the previous decade to the depression as the roaring twenties when everyone had a good time, but as author Cheryl Mullenbach points out in this evocatively-imaged story, a lot of people were suffering an economic depression before the 1930s took hold. The USA has suffered for its expenditure on two recent Middle East wars, but it was the only nation in the world to profit from the two world wars of the twentieth century, coming out of each of them positioned as an economic and productive powerhouse.

While the outcome of World War Two cemented the US into a position of economic leadership that was to last for decades, the outcome of World War One was not so long-lasting. It went south rather quickly, but the effects of this permeated through the buoyant economy quite slowly and we’re not felt by everyone until the end of the decade as this book shows. What had begun as a binge for many reasonably well-off people had by the end of the decade, lost its oomph through foolish loans and speculation in stocks, and through a complete blind spot as to how the economy really works, and bone-headed reliance on business perks to solve social problems.

This book gives the story in nice bite-sized pieces and lays out the sorry mess from start to finish in seven chapters:

The 1920s Roaring Towards a Crash
America Looks to Its Leaders For Help
Broken Cities and Bread Lines - Urban Life
Droughts, Dust Storms, and Pest Plagues - Rural Life
Growing Up in Tough Times
Helping hands and a “New Deal” Awaken Hope
Finding Fun in Gloomy Times

Each of these sections has one or more activities associated with it, and the activities vary widely, so there is something for everyone in here somewhere. The range of topics covered is quite staggering, running from racism to malnutrition, to entertainment, to libraries, to sports, and on and on.

Economic factors and government and business blunders were not the only factors in play here, as I indicated. It seemed like nature unleashed the plagues of Egypt upon the US during this decade, too. There were floods, there were droughts, there were plagues of grasshoppers. None of this helped local economies. This book covers all of this and more, and is accompanied by very moving images of suffering and deprivation, although in view of the intended audience, there is nothing too graphical – just very sad.

It was humbling to read this – to realize, that no matter how badly-done-to any one of us might feel due to personal circumstances, back then, about ten times as many people had it worse. It’s a testament not to the backbone of the nation but to the backbone of so many individuals that so many families managed to make it through that decade and pick up life’s reins at the end of it, worse for wear, and perhaps lesser for it, but determined to get on with life. The sad thing is that these survivors had no idea that the worst war ever to plague this world was the very next thing on their schedule. I recommend this book not only for kids, but for adults too.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Future Architect's Handbook by Barbara Beck

Title: The Future Architect's Handbook
Author: Barbara Beck (no website found)
Publisher: Schiffer 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. The chance to read a new novel is reward aplenty!

This is a really great idea for a story-book for a kid. I would have loved this as a youngster because I was always reading stuff about how things worked and how buildings - castles, skyscrapers - whatever - were put together, but I never became an architect. Now I can! Just kidding. But seriously, this is the ticket - or perhaps not the ticket, but certainly a foot in the well-designed door of the beautiful station where the train to your future departs!

The book is short, but has lots in it, including a lot of text, so it’s not for kids who haven't a good handle on their reading skills, but it is crystal clear for those who have and who are willing to pay attention. On the other hand, there's no reason at all why you couldn’t read it and explain it to younger children.

Architecture isn’t simple after all (it just looks that way when it’s done right!), so it’s a daunting task to embark upon a project like this, and impart enough to be engaging and make sense to children without it becoming a textbook. Be assured that, for those who are willing to spend a little bit of time here, this book will reward. It talks about all aspects of building, using a residential house as an example, but frequently referring to other types of buildings.

I remember when I was a young kid, trying to apply rules of logic to the English language - which is a doomed activity, let’s face it - and wondering why hoof became hooves, but roof didn’t become rooves! I had all but forgotten that until I started looking at the plan view of the house, with the interesting roof line and got carried back! Woah! It’s dizzying experience going down memory lane sometimes, isn't it?!

Anyway, this book not only discusses the how, but also the what and the why, which is just as important. How do we select a site? How do we factor in the environment? Why are there so many drawings?! What do these lines and symbols mean? It never goes into too much detail - just enough to get an understanding of the things discussed on the page, and it challenges the reader to think about what they're doing, and to try to improve upon the house that's designed in the text - what would you do? How would you change it? What would you prefer in a house you were designing? Of course there's far more to it than is shown here, but this is a great way to start.

There's no genderism here. This books reads true and pure for females, males, or anyone in between. The only thing you need worry about is whether you have enough large, blank pieces of paper upon which your kid(s) can execute their grand designs. Or maybe you can find a site or an app online which allows kids to design their own buildings, and save those trees! Maybe after they’ve designed their building, you can help them construct it with Legos and see if it works?

I loved this book, and I recommend it.