My View Book Review: Alienated by Sophie Shortland

Title: Alienated

Author/Illustrator: Sophie Shortland

Publisher/Year: ThunderStone Books/2018

Back Cover Blurb: A boy with autism makes a friend who helps him come to terms with the world around him.

A young boy feels isolated and alone. He doesn’t fit in with the kids at school and even has trouble relating to his own family. Everyone seems strange, noisy, and different from him. But one day, he meets a girl who’s very much like him. The two form a special friendship in which there’s no need to talk or even do the same activities. They are happy just to have the company of the other. Being with the girl makes the boy feel less alienated.

In this colorful book, populated with “alien” people, author/illustrator Sophie Shortland has given readers a glimpse of life through the eyes of a child with autism. Interestingly, she chose to depict the boy as human, but everyone else as aliens. It’s important for readers to see the boy this way because it reinforces the message that kids with autism are human beings, deserving of kindness and respect, just like all people.

Though autism is the focus, I believe any child who feels lonely or different, or is shy and has trouble making friends, will connect with this book. Once upon a time, I was such a child. Perhaps a book like this could have helped me to feel a little less like an oddball and a little more like I belonged.

My View Book Review: Microbes by Amy Gallagher


Title: Microbes

Author/Illustrator: Amy Gallagher

Publisher/Year: ThunderStone Books/2017

Back Cover Blurb: Microbes are incredibly tiny organisms; they are so small that millions of them can fit on the head of a pin! These cells, though invisible to the naked eye, are vital to the human race and ecosystem.

Microbes is a nonfiction picture book that introduces kids to six types of microbes: bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, archaea, and protozoa. Each microbe is discussed in its own chapter. Information and facts are presented in a simple, straight-forward manner. Colorful microbial characters accompany the text and liven up the pages. A Terminology section in the back offers expanded definitions of scientific terms featured in the book.

Microbes is, effectively, a mini Microbiology lesson for older kids–ages 8-12–and even curious adults who’d like to learn more about the microscopic creatures that share our world. The book certainly takes a heavy subject and makes is accessible to kids and to those of us who may be completely clueless, like me.

Did you know that microbes exist everywhere, even in our own bodies?

Did you know that bacteria can survive in a variety of habitats, even the arctic?

Did you know that some algae can be found on the hair of sloths and polar bears?

Did you know that protozoa hunt and gather other microbes as food?

Those are just a few of the interesting facts I learned.

I have to admit, microbes are a fascinating topic. If you have a child at home who loves science, this book is for them. Or maybe this book is for you, if you want to find out why algae is green, why yeast makes dough rise, or why white blood cells are important. If none of that interests you, then pick the book up for the illustrations. Who knew microbes could look so cute?

My View Book Review: Meh by Deborah Malcolm



Title: Meh

Author: Deborah Malcolm

Illustrator: Deborah Malcolm

Publisher/Year: ThunderStone Books/2015

Back Cover Blurb: Sadness is an emotion that everyone feels at some time or another. But sometimes you might feel a sadness so long and so deep and dark that it seems impossible to find happiness. That kind of sadness is called depression. 

One day, an ordinary boy went outside to play. The boy loved to imagine, to draw, to run, and to read. But on this particular day, something crept slowly up behind him. It was gray and gloomy, and it grew bigger until it enveloped him. Then he fell down into a deep, dark hole, so deep and so dark that he couldn’t find his way out. He felt alone. He felt hopeless. But what’s that? Is it a glimmer of hope?

Most people think of depression as something that just affects adults. But kids can experience it to. They learn to hide it, just like adults do, not wanting anyone to know how they feel, not believing that anyone can help them. Just like the boy in the story, they feel alone and hopeless. Could it also be that kids don’t have the words to express how they’re feeling? Adults should pay special attention to kids who are having trouble concentrating, or are keeping to themselves, or are otherwise acting differently than they normally do. These kids may be experiencing depression.

Meh is completely wordless. The illustrations do a fantastic job taking us, the readers, along on the journey with the boy. When the “gloom” arrives, we can feel the mood change. We share the boy’s emotions as he moves through the black and gray pages of depression. We experience hope when we see a glowing light. We rejoice with the boy when we emerge from the hole into the sunrise of a brand new day. 

I’m no expert on how to help kids who are suffering from depression, or how to help other kids to understand depression. But author/illustrator Deborah Malcolm’s book Meh is a good place to start.