Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dealing with D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children
by Dr. Azmaira H. Maker

Dr. Azmaira H. Maker, a clinical psychologist with twenty years of experience in child development, presents a fantasized tale of young Zoey Bunny who must deal with the divorce of her parents.

A "Note to Adults" starts the book providing information to parents, or other care givers (teachers, therapists, grandparents,etc.) about sharing this book with young children (ages 4-8 is the recommendation). The book ends with a list of questions to discuss with the child / children following the reader. Although the questions are presented as follow ups to the reading, they would be best used as a discussion starting point. I would recommend reading through the questions prior to sitting down with the child to read the book so you are familiar with them. Don't go through the questions immediately after reading. Use them as a springboard for conversation and not a quiz to see how well the child listened to the story.

Although a variety of emotions (sadness, anxiety, loss, confusion, and anger) are mentioned in the initial note, I didn't clearly see all of these emotions represented in the story. This is not a criticism, just an observation. It is very important to realize children of divorce have no control of their situation. They need to understand their feelings and emotions are valid and should be acknowledged accordingly.

When Zoey questions Mama Bunny about the words separation and divorce, she is presented with a very open and honest age appropriate definition of the two words. I am a bit concerned the words are used interchangeably. It might have been best, since this book seems to focus on the initial stages of the separation, to simply use the word separated. As the story progresses divorce could have been brought into the conversation as a means of explaining the permanence of the situation.

I reviewed the electronic version of the book. The illustrations I saw in the electronic version were bright, colorful, and would be very appealing to young children. They seemed sporadic in the format I read.  I feel full page illustrations across from the text on each two page spread would make the book more appealing to young children, especially because of the difficult topic.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Aspiring Families Press has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Families Change: Explaining Divorce to Children for review purposes. My review is in no way influenced by the author or publishing company and is strictly my opinion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt

Bug in a Vacuum
by Melanie Watt
Bug in a Vacuum is not the typical Watt book. In her latest book, which will be released August 25, 2015, a bug flies past the family dog and into the house. As it flies in the house it passes an aerosol can of Dandelion Repellent. This is the first time the observant reader notices the book does not take place in the present. The vacuum inside the door reminds me of my maternal grandmother’s old Electrolux.  
As the bug continues to fly around the house, through the bathroom, the kitchen, bedroom, and finally the living room glimpses of retro furniture (TV dinner on the Formica tabletop) and décor (hula lamp and globe) help to determine the setting as the mid 1960s.

It is in the living room everything changes for the bug and for the careful observer, the family dog. As the dog sits on the sofa the vacuum sucks up his favorite toy. Moments later the bug , which has landed on the globe, disappears into the inner bowels of the vacuum.  Both creatures then begin their grieving.

From here, the book is divided into small chapters focusing on each of the five stages of grief. The first, denial is represented by the can we first saw as the bug flew into the house – denial. The dog’s denial is portrayed through thought bubbles, while the bug is verbal trying to communicate with the other items eaten by the giant vacuum. Each subsequent stage: bargaining, anger, despair, and acceptance is presented in a similar manner. The story ends with the vacuum being thrown out and picked up by the waste service. As the little dog runs after the truck he meets a new friend and seems to move on with his life. When the truck arrives at the land fill, the vacuum crashes to the ground where the back of the unit falls open allowing the bug to escape. I love the final image of the two dogs looking at each other as the sun goes down, while in the foreground a mother bird watches over her eggs which are slightly hidden by the favorite toy.

Bug in a Vacuum has been described as “a funny, suspenseful and poignant look at the travails of a bug trapped in a vacuum,” but I think it is SO much more. Yes, portions of the book are humorous, but the underlying message in the book is that no matter what trials and tribulations we must face in life with patience, perseverance, and belief in oneself we will be able to overcome and move on.

Melanie Watt (best known to my library friends as the mother of Scaredy Squirrel, Leon the Chameleon, and Chester the Cat) presents a 96-page picture book which takes the reader through the five stages of grief, also known as the Kὕbler-Ross model. A brief mention of the Kὕbler-Ross model is explained at the end of the book as “a series of emotions commonly experienced when facing a life-changing event.” The model was first introduced in 1969 by the Swiss     psychiatrist in her book On Death and Dying. The five stages can occur in any order, and may not be experienced by all facing life-altering events.

Watt has found a unique way in which to present these stages to young children without preaching. If this book is needed for bibliotherapy  then wonderful discussions and comparisons can be made throughout, if not the story can be enjoyed simply for the wonderful presentation created by this incredibly talented author / illustrator.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tundra Books has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Bug in a Vacuum for review purposes. My review is in no way influenced by the author or publishing company and is strictly my opinion.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dexter is back!

Dexter is Dead
by Jeff Lindsay
From Jeff Lindsay's Dexter website...

"After seven national bestsellers and eight seasons as one of the most successful shows on television, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Lindsay bids a thrilling farewell to his uniquely twisted and beloved serial killer, Dexter Morgan. Dexter is Dead is the definitive conclusion of the character who has become a global icon."

"Dexter Morgan has burned the candle at both ends for many years. Blood spatter analyst...husband...father...serial killer. And now, for the first time, his world has truly collapsed. Dexter is arrested on charges of murder. He has lost everything-including his wife, his kids, and the loyalty of his sister. Now completely alone, Dexter faces a murder charge (for a crime...ironically...he did not actually commit). His only chance for freedom lies with his brother, Brian, who has a dark plan to prove Dexter's innocence. But the stakes are deadly, and the epic showdown that lies in Dexter's path may lead, once and for all, to his demise.

Jeff Lindsay's trademark devilish wit and cutting satire have never been sharper. Dexter is Dead marks the end of a beloved series, but is also Dexter's most satisfying and suspenseful outing yet."

Almost two years ago I posted a review of Dexter's Final Cutat the time I believed it was the demise of Dexter. I was thrilled when I discovered Dexter was back, even if for only a short time (as the title suggests), in Dexter is Dead. Full disclosure, I have not yet finished reading the book. I don't want to inadvertently present any spoilers. What I can say is Mr. Lindsay does not disappoint. The next installment (and according to Lindsay's website, quoted above, the conclusion of the series) of Dexter (still in my head as Michael C. Hall from the Showtime series) picks up right where it left off in the seventh book. For fans of Dexter, Dexter is Dead will be available July 7 from your favorite book sellers. For those who have yet to be introduced to the Robin Hood of serial killers, I would suggest starting from the beginning of the series with Darkly Dreaming Dexter

I know ethically Dexter is wrong. However I love how he always took care of ridding the world of the bad guy, the one everyone believes should get his comeuppance. If this truly is the end of Dexter I must take this opportunity to say thank you to Mr. Lindsay. Dexter Morgan will go in my book as one of my favorite literary characters. I will miss him, but I know life goes on and there are so many more great characters you will share with us in the future.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Doubleday has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Dexter is Dead for review purposes. My review is in no way influenced by the author or publishing company and is strictly my opinion.