Magnusson (Bitopia, 2012) and illustrator Marathas provide dynamic panels, comic-style fonts, and multicultural characters...


What YOU Can Do About Bullying by Max and Zoey

An empowering comic book focuses on how to prevent and deal with bullying.

Magnusson (Bitopia, 2012) and illustrator Marathas provide dynamic panels, comic-style fonts, and multicultural characters who speak directly to the reader in this anti-bullying guide. Zoey and Max, two preteen kids, instruct readers on how to help themselves and one another—“You and your classmates are really the ones who decide how to treat each other”—while indicating when to ask an adult for help (for example, when children mention harming themselves). Beginning with a section for students in kindergarten through second grade, Zoey and Max define bullying by describing how it makes someone feel, then reassure kids that most children are never bullied. A key component to bullying is often an “aggressor’s” underlying anger or frustration toward a “target,” and finding out why they feel that way can diffuse the situation: “You don’t have to say you did what the person said you did. But you can still help the person feel better.” Effective apologies are reiterated throughout the volume, including when the aggressor’s anger is justified: “Say you are sorry. Say what you are sorry for. Let the person know he or she has a right to be mad. Say you will not do [it] again.” For older children, as relationships become more complicated, Zoey and Max redefine bullying as “dominance aggression” or “relational aggression” and offer useful advice for handling both by encouraging self-confidence and thoughtful, one-on-one interaction. Creative page arrangements, including Zoey and Max breaking out of their panels, visually reinforce direct engagement. A helpful “Find Your Section” page points kids to chapters on helping someone else who is being bullied, learning ways to interact with aggressors, stopping someone from bullying, or teaching an adult how to help effectively. Online bullying-prevention tips—don’t email or text in anger, don’t take potentially embarrassing photos—prove useful at any age. Occasionally, jargon-heavy text miniaturizes characters beneath massive speech bubbles, but most of the book balances words and images nicely, lending a friendly, easy-to-understand tone to a serious subject.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970221-3-1

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Olivander Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.



A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012


Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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