Gentle handling of a difficult but important subject.

READ REVIEW

Journey Home

A THANK YOU TO AMERICAN VETERANS

Lyrical text and soaring imagery give school-age children a taste of war, peace, freedom, and military service.

The opening spread of author/illustrator Meyer’s debut mentions clouds floating as young Lee and her mother walk in the park to a tree where a red bird lands. Somewhat oddly, the impressionistic first illustration doesn’t show the girl or her mother; in fact, the textured paintings regularly evoke feelings rather than the simple storyline, a setup that works better in some places than others. The next spread focuses on the girl, the bird, and the tree opposite an indistinct soldier on a bench. Lee strikes up a conversation with the soldier about the bird. Their dialogue is rather stilted: after looking at his duffel bag, Lee asks the soldier where he’s going, to which the soldier responds: “I’m going to war in another country, little one….I sure will miss my home and family, but my job to protect our country is an important one.” The mother thanks him for his service, and walking off, Lee asks, “What is war, mommy?” After defining “war” and “the military,” her mother says, “The military protects countries, people, land, seas, and freedoms.” When Lee asks, “What is freedom?” her mother points out people enjoying the park. The dreamy art, meanwhile, features few humans, but rather kites and a butterfly floating over a blue-green backdrop of skyscrapers. As the bird flies after the soldier, “Lee imagined seeing the soldier’s journey through the eyes of the bird. She remembered what he had said”: “We’ll protect your seas. We’ll protect your skies. We’ll protect your lands. And we’ll protect your freedoms.” (Curiously, that’s instead what her mother had said.) Each realm of protection gets a spread featuring an abstract depiction of what’s being protected: a boat at sea, a rainbow-colored plane, flowers and grass, and, for freedom, the Constitution, children playing, and the American flag. The bird, which travels across these varied realms, “was tossed above countries at war”—fiery paint suggest an explosion—“and drifted over the countries at peace,” where the bird coasts through deep-blue skies. Leaving the park, Lee wonders, “Will the soldier be okay?’ ” and her mother explains how her grandfather returned with worn boots, a limp, and tales of missing home. “That’s why we thank soldiers and veterans for keeping us safe,” she says. “They have sacrificed so much.” Though the text/illustration couplings are often inadequate and indirect, they succeed in several instances, as in the impressive painting of the bird perched upon a worn combat boot. In the final, most moving spread, Lee stands beside rows of soldiers’ graves, telling the bird, “You’re home, you’re protected, and you’re free.” Though that message isn’t superbly conveyed here, Meyer’s visually striking book opens the door to a deeper conversation.

Gentle handling of a difficult but important subject.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

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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

ISBN: 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.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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