A sharp, satisfying exploration of some of today’s most controversial topics.

EXPECTING

Belle’s debut novel is a quirky alternate history from the perspective of a precocious, politically astute—and pregnant—teenager.

At age 14, Sheila Martin becomes pregnant after she is drugged with Rohypnol and raped at a party. Her conservative, Catholic mother forbids her from getting an abortion. But that’s not the entire story. Her mother’s case is helped by the fact that John McCain won the 2008 election and promptly died in office, leaving his running mate Sarah Palin to become the first woman president of the United States. And although history has been tweaked, Palin’s politics remain as conservative as ever and she helps form a pro-life Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade is overturned, causing anti-abortion trigger laws in several states, including Sheila’s, to go into effect. She endures her pregnancy in one of very few alternatives open to her—the House of Mercy, her state’s government-funded residence for girls in Sheila’s situation. There she meets girls even worse off than she, including an 11-year-old impregnated by her own brother. Sheila liberates the preteen and illegally escorts her across state lines to get an abortion, all with the help of Sheila’s narcoleptic boyfriend and feminist grandmother. On occasion Sheila’s precocity leans toward disingenuousness, but these instances are offset by bright, realistic dialogue and writing that is thoughtfully broad in scope. And although Sheila can seem extraordinarily composed, especially for a girl in the throes of adolescent and pregnancy hormones, throughout she remains an appealing heroine. Belle’s historical and political alterations are recent enough to engage even politically indifferent readers, and her divisive topics (free will, reproductive rights, parental control, how political policy affects even the youngest individuals) are addressed with a diversity of viewpoints and should spark intelligent debate.

A sharp, satisfying exploration of some of today’s most controversial topics.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 9780615572543

Page Count: -

Publisher: Creative License

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2011

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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