Artemis, Wild Goddess of the Hunt

March 8th, 2017 · Books

Review By KRISTIN WALD

The ninth in the hugely popular George O’Connor OLYMPIANS series is here, and it’s a must-have for those who love the Greek Gods, and especially for fans of Artemis, Wild Goddess of the Hunt. This volume focuses on several of the most notorious and bloody stories in the Artemis myth. The re-telling, as with the prior volumes, pulls no punches and holds true to the moral ambiguity of the Greek Gods.

9781626725225The narrator for much of the volume is Apollo, brother to Artemis. As narrator, he concentrates on three main tales: Niobe and her children, Actaeon and his temptation, and Orion and his friendship with Artemis. Despite the modern language and affect employed throughout, the stories are loyal to the classic myths, and the illustrations help tell the tales as well.

First time readers may be shocked at the violence in the stories about Artemis. One man is hunted by his own hounds, a mother loses her children to Artemis and Apollo’s arrows, and Artemis knowingly kills a potential love interest in her quest to stay unattached to a suitor. But these are classic myths retold, not embellished. And the illustrations support the story without dwelling on the gory details.

Animal loving readers will appreciate the attention to forest dwelling animals and the love Artemis has for them. However, the spotlight on hunting for sport and enjoyment, and the role animals play in the death in one of the stories can and should be discussed, especially with younger children. Again, for readers familiar with the Greek myths and the Olympians, this will be nothing new, but the smart and sharp treatment of the subject in this volume provides an opportunity for thoughtful notice.

As with the previous volumes, the focus is on one Olympian, but other characters appear and play variously significant roles. Children familiar with the past books will delight in seeing the developments with characters they already recognize and enjoy.

Artemis, Wild Goddess of the Hunt is an excellent addition to the Olympians series by George O’Connor.

Ages 8 to 12.

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Bats: Learning to Fly

February 1st, 2017 · Books

Review By KRISTIN WALD

The wonderfully fun and informative SCIENCE COMICS series, which has brought us exciting topics like coral reefs, dinosaurs, and volcanoes, is about to get a new addition: Bats: Learning to Fly. Infusing storytelling with sidebar information, author Falynn Koch tells the story of Little Brown, a bat who loses his way and is swatted away by a human and injured as the bat tries to feast on bugs. As we follow him to a rehabilitation center where he gets to know dozens of other bats and how he is similar and different from them all.

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A lot of information is packed into this graphic novel. Little Brown’s journey allows us to learn about bats from all over the world, the dangers bats face from their environment and humans, how they help control insects and spread seeds, and how humans can be helpful and not harmful to the bats around us. Sidebars throughout the story, identified easily by different color backgrounds, give direct information related to Little Brown’s story. At times, the sidebars can be confusing to children unused to following graphic novel layout, but readers will quickly acclimate to the format.

Highlights in the book include sections about the Bracken Cave colony and the Congress Avenue bridge, both in Texas. The illustrations of various bat faces is fascinating, and you’ll catch readers returning to the page again and again. Little Brown’s realistic personality (sometimes vulnerable and inquisitive, other times defensive) will help readers relate to his journey and the things he learns.

Readers will learn about bats’ wing structure, use of echolocation (they don’t all use it!), where and how they sleep, how bats use their bodily functions to help grow trees and plants, and how they are able to stand being upside down for so long. There is plenty of detail for the casual bat fan as well as the bat aficionado. And besides that, there is a fun story for kids to follow.

Humans as a danger to bats is emphasized (although cats are a close second), but solutions are offered that will make us all better friends of bats. Tips are shared for hikers, homeowners, and tourists, and the end of the book gives great ideas about making or setting up your own bat box. Did you know that hikers can fool hibernating bats into thinking its spring merely by exploring a cave?

As with all the Science Comics books, there are suggestions for further reading and a glossary of important terms. This newest version, Bats: Learning to Fly, is a wonderful addition for its sense of humor, creative approach to learning, and reliably detailed and beautiful illustrations.

Bats: Learning to Fly, along with the entire Science Comics series, is highly recommended for ages 8-12.

The publisher provided a review copy.

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What’s an Apple? and What’s a Banana?

January 4th, 2017 · Books

Review By JENNIFER KALI

I received these two books from the publisher for review. They are cute books appropriate for a baby or young toddler.9781419721403

Each book is a silly celebration of the fruit in the title. The basic structure is the same for each. A bunch of silly things are proposed for each fruit–“You can wash it, try to squash it, or pretend that it’s a ball”–each with cute drawings of two children doing the action described. But in the end it is decided that to eat the fruit is best.

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The books would make great baby gifts.

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Finding Dory (2016)

December 31st, 2016 · Movies

Girl holding a movie camera - stock image to accompany movie reviewReview By JENNIFER KALI

When my older daughter was three, we tried watching “Finding Nemo,” a movie beloved by many but way too scary for my daughter. My youngest is now three, and a parent of a friend of his suggested we watch “Finding Dory.” A look of horror must have crossed my face when she said that because she quickly followed it up with “It’s not scary like Finding Nemo!”

We were on vacation in Burlington, VT, and wanted to see a movie at the drive-in theatre, and they were playing “Finding Dory,” so we gave it a try. I enjoyed the movie more than “Finding Nemo,” and it’s definitely less scary. My daughter, seven years old, said she really liked the movie, and thought the characters were really funny, but it was sad. My son, three years old, said, “Ooh fish!” when the movie started, but he fell asleep before it ended, though the next day he said that he liked the movie and thought Dory was funny, but was worried because Dory couldn’t find her parents. I thought the movie was quiet and slow but a good story with enjoyable characters.

Much of the movie takes place in a ocean animal rescue center in California. My daughter loved hearing about how Ellen DeGeneres, the voice of Dory and a animal activist, suggested changes to the script that changed the setting from a Sea World-type aquarium to an animal rescue center. We talked about the power of speaking up for what you believe in. Even in that setting, you do get the feeling that the animals are trapped. It’s clear that though it is a rehabilitation center, many of the animals have been there for years. There is a conversation between a whale shark and a beluga whale in which the whale shark is considering whether or not to escape. The beluga whale says, “There are no walls in the ocean!” and the whale shark gets so excited. There is a big escape scene at the end that is particularly telling. All of the animals in the tanks start shouting “Release, release!”

Common Sense Media recommends this movie for ages 6+. I watched it with my children ages 7 and 3.

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