Rosie Revere, Engineer: A

imagesI love this book! Written by Andrea Beaty, Rosie Revere, Engineer is a inspirational children’s book about not giving up. This book will motivate children, and adults to get going on the projects we love, specifically those we don’t succeed at the first time.  The illustrations by David Roberts are fantastic, possibly a little circus-esque-scary but wonderful and full of life.

“She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere, who smiled at her aunt as it all become clear.  Life might have it’s failures, but this was not it.  The only true failure can come if you quit.”

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Willow’s Whispers: B

Unknown-1Willow’s Whispers is a rare book in that the author Lana Button puts the “message” front and center, for real kids, with real experiences.  Button stays away from hidden euphemisms and agenda pushing.  The book is about a little girl named Willow who  speaks so softly that her words come out in whispers, no one, other than her dad can hear what she says.  We see Willow constantly unheard and overlooked  in many scenarios at school. Kristabelle, the presumed “popular” girl takes advantage of Willow’s soft-spoken and shy demeanor,  but don’t worry creativity and a little light engineering of a make-shift microphone gives Willow the courage to speak up for what she wants.

Other than the character of Kristabelle I really like this book.  What I don’t like about Kristabelle is that she seems overly stereotyped into her character– blonde, aloof and so intentionally mean, “‘Excuse me?’ Sneered Kristabelle.”  While all of the other characters in the book participate in ignoring Willow, none of them are painted as doing so intentionally–who’s to say Kristabelle was intentionally taking advantage?

If you have a shy child, or if you fear your kid is acting the part of Kristabelle, read this book, give your kids something real to relate to.

Bunny Days: D-

imagesBunny Days, written by Tao Nyeu lives on the top shelf in my charges room, if I can help it that is.  The top shelf is not an ode to top-shelf liquors, the top shelf is just simply out of her reach and eye-shot so I don’t have to read this disturbing sadistic book.

The story line is simple, there are six bunnies, two goats and one bear.  The author has Mr. Goat “accidentally” mangle the bunnies in each of the mini vignette’s. After the torture has ensued the goat offers no apology, he continues with his daily chores, unaware and unconcerned that he has chopped off the bunnies tails, sucked them into a vacuum, etc. Instead of Mr. Goat taking responsibility for what he’s done, Bear comes to the “rescue,” fixing the bunnies in ways that would never work in real life, like putting them in a washer.  Wouldn’t this only and make their pain and suffering worse?

The few times I’ve read this book I cringe, because the reality of tails chopped and suffocation in the washer, even if it’s on delicate, is all too much for me.  And really what message does it send?  Sure, I guess the message is, “help out your friends when they’ve been beaten and abused” and while this is a good, moral message, it seems  to me the amount of physical brutality is a little unnecessary for toddlers, couldn’t the author have made the point a different way?  Mr. Goat is painted as the bad guy and doesn’t even know it, maybe instead of fixing the Mr. Goats mishaps Bear should put an end to the torture.

Maybe the better message would be, “Hey Goat, pay attention dude, you keep hurting my friends.  What’s going on in your life that you don’t even notice the pain you’re inflicting? Are you depressed?  Let’s get you help!”

Tip: Don’t buy this book, and if you already have it, put it out of sight on the top shelf!

Sorry Goldieblox

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I just found this article by Katy Waldman in Slate, Goldieblox: Great for Girls? Bad for Girls? Or Just Selling Toys?

If you haven’t yet heard of GoldieBlox toy company, check it out here.   The aim of the company is to guide girls toward a career in engineering, or at the very least get them away from typical girl toys.   While I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of the toys, and while the company aims seem at first powerful and legitimate I can’t help but shutter a little at the almost sleazy misappropriation of feminism seen in their video and mission statement, and with it the assumption that girls don’t already utilize home materials, and other toys to satisfy their desire for constructive and creative learning.

I really don’t want to poo-poo on anyones attempt at trying to promote “better” learning for girls (and boys, right?) and while I can even respect understand, the desire to try and make a buck in the name of feminism, this toy company seems to have missed the mark.  In Waldman’s essay she points to many disheartening truths about the toy, and reviewers all seem to agree that while the idea behind the toy is “inspiring” the execution is a, “massive disappointment, Really doesn’t inspire creativity or ‘engineering’ skills, no room for thinking outside the box.” Amazon reviewers. 

In the end, if you want to inspire children to be creative and even to directly push them toward a career in engineering it seems your best options remain in your household.  Tupperware, tape, boxes, blocks, utensils, etc., all of these things promote spacial reasoning, creativity and may even build future engineers.