Book Reviews: A Lot More Kiddie Stuff

Return the fervor.

Amelie and the Great Outdoors
A little girl who lives in a skyscraper never goes outside. Her friend, a bird, tries to convince her to go out, but she won’t, so he gives up and flies away. Then she realizes she’s missed him and thinks something might have happened to him, so she demands to be taken outside. She finds him and fun ensues.
An incredibly simple story, even for kids, and all the better for it. The watercolor-like illustrations are the best part.
3.5/5

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
If you don’t know by now, Malala is the young girl who stood up to the Taliban and got shot in the head by them, only to survive and win the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course there’s a lot more to her story than that, and this book fills in some of those gaps, albeit for kids; it’s not written for adults.
Her father is progressive, especially for Pakistan, and not in Karachi either. When the big earthquake hit the Taliban claimed it was due to god being mad at their decadence, and it worked; oddly enough—not really—it’s the same tactic used by some Christians here. But there’s actually not that much background, since this book aims to humanize someone who has really become an icon more than an individual. For example, Malala wears a shawl that belonged to Benazir Bhutto.
Most of the book is matter-of-fact notes spruced with beautiful watercolors, then the second half is mostly photos and data blurbs at a kid level, told in a boring style. For example: “Malala is transferred to a hospital in Birmingham, England.” This should have been expanded, it’s what made her famous worldwide.
Could have been written more inspirational, but good for a second grade book report.
3.5/5

The STEM Club Goes Exploring
A school club takes field trips to look at disparate jobs in the STEM professions.
After a brief intro, Nixie—great name—is seen interviewing her uncle, who has a software company. This is told in sharp cartoon-like drawings in bright colors, which works perfectly.
Winston’s cousin is going to veterinarian school, but not to be a vet; instead he wants to be an animal medicine researcher. Someone else wants to design pet food. The book is full of jobs that most people would never think of (try to find the surprised looking bunny on that page). There’s interviews with a geologist, doctor, mechanical engineer, and chemical, molecular (nano), and electrical engineers.
It’s the kids in the club who handle the video and sound as well as the interviewing; they’re kinda young, but I guess being in this particular club helps.
Ends with glossary of careers.
4/5

Margo Thinks Twice
Margo lets her big imagination get the better of her, but hey, at least she has one. She plays with glue, enjoys her swing, pretends to be a jungle explorer, and takes a trip to the pet shop, all occasions where her mom warns her of a danger that makes her think twice; sometimes it’s because she’s being reckless, other times she’s afraid of what might happen. But if there’s a theme here, it seems to be “Listen to your mother.”
Margo reminds me of Phoebe from—you guessed it—the Phoebe and Her Unicorn comic strip. The artwork is very expressive and adds to the story.
3.5/5

;o)

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