Tuesday, January 19, 2010



Cosmic is the latest work from the Carnegie Medal-winning author of Millions, which was made into a movie by Danny Boyle. This comedic piece by Frank Cottrell Boyce becomes available on January 19, 2010.

Cosmic [Walden Pond Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-183686-2] is the laugh-out-loud story of Liam, a twelve year-old boy who has grown too quickly. He stands taller than most adults, and even has to shave. Quite frequently, people mistake him for a thirty year-old man. And that means they expect adult-like behavior out of him. He likes to take advantage of this, buy posing as a purchaser of a Porsche, or even a schoolteacher.

Liam's greatest adventure posing as an adult comes along when he wins a contest that allows a Dad and child to come test a new program that is sending kids out into space for the first time. He adopts his classmate, Florida, as his daughter, and the two set off on a comical adventure in space. (Think Apollo 13.) Liam learns a lot about what it means to be a responsible adult, as well as gathering a lot of insight into what it really means to be a kid.

Fellow adventurists in the story include examples of father-son relationships. There is the dominating father who pushes his son too far. Then there is the father who will buy his son everything, because for him, money talks. Each one thinks that his child is the smartest, cleverest, and the best. The flaws of each are quickly demonstrated.

This book is aimed for children ages 8-12, in grades 3-7, but will entertain even older readers. It makes for a great read-aloud and can easily segue into research into space travel and the universe. Moms and dads may also find themselves questioning their roles as parents, and seek to find an understanding in their relationship with their kids.

Purchase Cosmic

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sexuality and Teens


Sexuality and Teens: What You Should Know About Sex, Abstinence, Birth Control, Pregnancy, and STDs by Stephen Feinstein is an educational book geared toward teenagers, published by Enslow Publishers. It starts out by covering how views about sex and sexuality have changed over time, particularly in the last 5 decades. Teens used to not engage in sexual activity, and if they did, it was looked down upon. Times started to change during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and now sex is everywhere. It is glorified on TV, in movies, advertising, and more. Many myths about sex are developed, and teens are not always educated in their rights and responsibilities.

Sexuality and Teens also covers the topic of birth control, emphasizing that both parties are responsible. Various forms of contraception are discussed, including both female and male condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, and more. A description of each method is given, along with statistics about its use and reliability, plus how to obtain it. Emphasis on proper use is given.

The chapter on teen pregnancy begins with a story about a pregnant teenager in 1970, then discusses the options for a pregnant teen today. It provides a list of questions every girl should ask herself, before she becomes sexually active, to make an informed decision in the event she becomes pregnant. Topics include the abortion debate, as well as closed vs. open adoptions and keeping the baby. Common myths are addressed and dispelled.

STDs are rampant amongst teenagers today. This chapter talks about the dangers of STDs, while detailing the symptoms, permanency, and treatment of the most common. It also discusses methods of preventing the spread. It tries to demonstrate the harsh reality of having an STD, while aspiring to clarify rumors, and providing statistics.

A final chapter tackles the debate of sex education for teenagers. Some believe only abstinence should be taught, whereas others wish to tackle the topic in full. This book serves the latter purpose.

The end of the book includes a glossary of terms and organizations that teens can contact for more information.

The book reads like a textbook that is geared toward children about 13 or 14 and older, which is probably its goal. It very carefully travels that thin line between opposing sides of belief about teens and sexuality, by presenting both sides of an argument. It provides a great deal of information in the form of statistics and research studies. Photographs also serve to bring some reality to the topic. It also seems to be fairly complete in topics covered, though more on the reality of raising a baby as a teenager could be beneficial.

Purchase  Sexuality and Teens: What You Should Know About Sex, Abstinence, Birth Control, Pregnancy and STDs (Issues in Focus Today)

A review copy of this book was provided by Enslow Publishers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Messy Tessy

Messy Tessy is a young girl who manages to get herself into a lot of trouble when her Aunt Fran comes over to babysit. Aunt Fran falls asleep, and Messy Tessy manages to live up to her name by making a huge mess out of the whole house. She leaves her dolls and toys all over the floor. Painting goes from easel to the wall. Peas end up in her hair. Messy Tessy, the dolls, and an unsuspecting Aunt Fran all get makeovers.

Aunt Fran wakes up in a panic, and she and Messy Tessy race around the house getting it all spic and span before Mom gets back home. They leave it in better condition than when Mom left, except for Aunt Fran's red streaks in her hair, highly impressing Mom.

The book is very cute, and my class of 3-6 year-olds absolutely loved it! Most impressed was a young girl who actually has an Aunt Fran.

Children delight in witnessing the naughtiness of other children, almost as if they are living vicariously through them. A few may try to mimic, but usually children develop these ideas on their own, so I wouldn't worry about it influencing them. A great lesson is included, as Messy Tessy and Aunt Fran have to clean up the mess. Messy Tessy is in charge of most of it!

For those who really feel the need, it can provide a springboard for appropriate behavior.

Also appealing about this book is that the author, Leah Orr, dedicates her books and the proceeds to assisting research for Cystic Fibrosis. Her daughter, Ashley Elizabeth, has CF, and they are very active with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Purchase Messy Tessy

I requested and received a review copy of this book from the author.