A picture book about a pumpkin who overcomes his fears.
Kendall’s debut children’s tale follows the life span of a pumpkin named Pete. After he’s planted by an unnamed boy, Pete grows and develops over the course of a summer. His friends include other pumpkins in the patch, as well as watermelons across the way, although his relationship with a melon named Walter gets off to a rocky start. Pete notices similarities between the pumpkins and the watermelons, but Walter is quick to point out how different they are. Walter tells Pete that pumpkins eventually get carved up and left outside, which plants fears in the young pumpkin’s mind. In a dream, he meets a wise old pumpkin who explains Halloween to him; he also dreams about a great battle between the pumpkins and the watermelons. Later, Pete realizes that pumpkins and watermelons can still be friends in the real world, despite their differences, although he still has lingering apprehension about the coming harvest. He then learns that people eat watermelons and that the melons accept this because it’s their purpose to nourish people. As a result, he begins to feel differently about being harvested himself. Full-color illustrations effectively depict the pumpkins and watermelons, as well as the farming family, in a modern folk-art style. This relatively long book may be a bit too wordy for younger listeners, but it may be a good read-aloud for elementary-age children. Some advanced concepts, such as “collective knowledge” and “sit-in,” and words like “initially,” may require some adult explanation. Overall, the book’s themes lend themselves to discussions about agriculture and about how people rely on plants and animals for nourishment and survival. The plot does meander a bit, however, due in part to clunky sentences such as, “After the heavy rain and then the sunshine, and while thinking about his dreams, Pete grew more than he had on any other day.”
A thought-provoking, if somewhat choppily executed, kids’ book.
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.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.