An insightful and well-intentioned, if occasionally lackluster, book on raising happy teenagers.

WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?

A creative approach to handling the teenage years.

This parenting manual uses both fiction and nonfiction to help parents navigate the trickier bits of raising teenagers. Chetty (Where Am I?, 2013), a medical practitioner in Australia, opens the book with a story about a conference of the Gods created to help these troubled children. On the first day of the convention, letters from anxious parents are read by the Gods. This fairly effective bit—the letters are relatable and written realistically—conveys stories about the traps in which adolescents can get caught: drugs, cutting, bullying, etc. The authors of these letters, mostly average parents, are clearly distraught and unsure of what to do. In turn, the Gods spend the next two days of the convention assessing the situations and offering suggestions. They essentially conclude that a lack of awareness and good communication often contribute to the breakdown between parents and children, although much of it is biological as well. That’s where readers get a taste of Chetty’s medical background and learn that adolescent brains do not fully mature until they are 25 or so, though there are certain tools that can be used to work around this. While the tools themselves are not especially new—clearing clutter from our lives, appreciating those around us, meditating, being creative and learning self-defense techniques—Chetty does take a very practical approach, which is helpful. “Look around your room,” she advises, “focus upon an item, and ask yourself, ‘Is this item important to my immediate experience?’ ” Though her language is clear and accessible, the story drags a bit, and the book in general suffers in part because its audience is not especially clear. It comes across as rather juvenile for either adults or disaffected teens. Those readers are unlikely to pick this book up and feel connected to it as a whole, although some individual chapters may be useful. In many ways, the better approach would have been to write a more straightforward parenting manual, one that doesn’t attempt to lure in older children with a fairy tale.

An insightful and well-intentioned, if occasionally lackluster, book on raising happy teenagers.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1482897555

Page Count: 62

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

If You Were Me and Lived in ...Kenya

A CHILD'S INTRODUCTION TO CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD

Roman (If You Were Me and Lived In…Norway, 2013, etc.) offers a children’s primer of the geography, sports, food and vocabulary that Kenyan kids encounter in their daily lives.

The latest installment in this cultural series—preceded by books on Mexico, France, South Korea and Norway—takes young readers to the African nation of Kenya, where they get a short, engaging lesson on the country’s culture. The opening phrase “If you were me…” helps kids imagine a narrator not much different from themselves. Their Kenyan counterpart lives with their parents (“If you needed your mommy, you would call for Mzazi. When you are speaking to your daddy, you would call him Baba”), buys milk from the market and pays for it “with a shilling,” eats snacks (“samosa, a small triangular pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried in oil”) and goes to school. The book covers Mombasa Carnival, a large yearly festival, and discusses its importance. It also explains the basics of cricket, a popular sport in Kenya, and the fact that kids usually entertain themselves with handmade toys. Roman’s books are successful since she draws connections between cultures while maintaining a tone that keeps young readers engaged. Colorful illustrations further enhance the text, such as one showing kids playing with cricket bats. A glossary at the end offers a pronunciation key for the unfamiliar words throughout. This series of books would be a natural fit in school classrooms and would also provide a good way for parents to teach their own kids about the cultures, languages and geography of different countries. This installment is a quick read that may help kids see the similarities between themselves and their Kenyan peers.

An excellent introduction to the Kenyan culture for children.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481979917

Page Count: 30

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2014

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