In this informative children’s picture book, a young ball player squares off against the deadly carcinogen in the sky—the sun.
Standing in right field on a cloudless day, Charles is less worried about his Little League game than the hot sun beating down on him. His dermatologist dad has schooled Charles and his family in the perils of skin cancer caused by UV radiation in sunlight, so they’re all now paragons of solar vigilance: Charles’ sisters model the long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that everyone over the age of 6 months should wear when outdoors, while his mother carefully takes shelter under an umbrella table. Yet as the game wears on, Charles suddenly notices his pinkening arms and cheeks; leaping into action, he dispenses an emergency ration of sunscreen to everyone on both teams. “ ‘Thanks, Charles,’ whispers Emily, the opposing player who makes his heart flutter; ‘You’ve saved the day.’ ” Barrow, a cancer education advocate, and Crutchfield, a University of Minnesota dermatology professor, weave an impressive amount of information about skin cancer around Charles’s small-scale heroics. Young readers will learn about the science of solar rays, how to recognize possibly cancerous spots on the skin, and how to use clothes, shade and sunscreen to protect themselves. Also, they’ll understand why tanning beds aren’t just a threat to health but a target of dermatological scorn. Sigmund’s storyboards and explanatory graphics are colorful and catchy, although Charles appears to be wearing a left-handed mitt on his right hand. The authors’ “SunAWARE” protocol is a rigorous one: apply sunscreen every two hours, cover up almost religiously and take meticulous notes about skin blemishes. It’s a lot to ask of kids, but the book distills these lessons into a useful, engaging teaching tool that should find a welcome place in homes, school libraries and pediatricians’ waiting rooms.
A fact-filled but easily digestible skin cancer primer for ages 8–12.