Book review: Does my head look big in this?

Does my head look big in this?
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2006Cover of does this make myhead look big?

I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the fact it was encouraging cross-cultural tolerance and my fourteen-year-old daughter loved it.

Abdel-Fattah introduces us to the world of teenage muslims girls in modern Australia through the eyes of 16-year-old Amal. Amal believes in Islam and lives a comfortable life with her intelligent and accepting parents.

The story revolves around Amal choosing to wear the hijab as a sign of her faith and the usual teenage issues of boys, clothes, parents and make-up.

It is clearly written for a teenage audience and has less appeal to those beyond school politics and blushes over first crushes. However, with the cultural undertone of a Muslim girl, the story has an innocence and freshness that is nice to read.

Showing understanding of Muslims and other religions, this book has the potential to help foster better relations throughout the community. It is a positive and broad view of Islam, and teenagers, without any overt religious message. Most of the key characters are understanding of all religions and cultures met in the story.

While clearly an Australian book (set in Melbourne), Abdel-Fattah has used many American references and terms which is disappointing – especially in a story about the meeting of cultures.

In summary, a positive story that teen girls are likely to enjoy while possibly broadening their views of Islam.

Book review: Outside permission

Outside permission
Eleanor Nilsson
Viking, Ringwood, 1996

This was an unusual book to say the least.

To be honest, I read 40 or so pages and left it alone for a few months before starting again and finishing the book. The second time was easier as I had a clue to what was happening.

Outside permission is about David, his sister and their mate, Simon. They live n Adelaide, but not exactly the Adelaide we know as some power has taken over. This unknown (well unknown for the readers, the characters seem to accept the situation) power maintains records of everyone’s live – including the date of death.

David and Simon often dare each other to do things, but lately Simon has been acting differently and sets a much harder dare with unseen consequences. The final consequences surprised David and me as a reader, although some of that was surprise on my part was disbelief in the method of the ending.

I found some of the inconsistencies to be distracting in an already complex story. For example, they boys went to school (not yet in the senior class), could drive and went to fancy restaurants without parents. It made it hard to decide how old they were – perhaps not a critical detail but distracting none-the-less.

certainly not a book for children or early teens – the language, violence and adult-scenes are not an issue, but understanding the issues (as they are implied not written) and implications requires a certain amount of sophistication.

I can see that some people would enjoy this book, and the suspense is interesting, but I doubt I’ll be bothering with it again.

Because Mommy loves you ~ review

Because Your Mommy Loves You

Andrew Clements
illustrated by R W Alley
Clarion Books 2012

 I grabbed this book from the library to read with my 2 and 3.5 year olds – and we all loved it! So much so I’ve now ordered Clements’ related book about Daddy!

A mum and her son prepare for and go on a camping trip together. Various things happen to the boy and Mum repeatedly gives him the opportunity to gain independence and skills – she doesn’t drop everything to do things for him.

As parenting educator Michael Grose says, ‘never do for children what they can do themselves’. The Mum in this book lives by that policy and it is so positive and encouraging to see that in a child’s book.

The boy gets satisfaction in doing things for himself, knowing Mum is there if needed – or for a cuddle afterwards. There is no doubt for him that Mum loves him but she is there to teach and guide rather than  moddycoddle him.

Okay, I love the sentiment and message of the story, but Clements carries it off with a nice story about interesting events. Add in the great illustrations which show the story and provide more things to discuss, and it is a lovely book for any home library.

It is obviously a picture book aimed at older toddlers and pre-schoolers into early primary. So it is easy to understand and is short enough to keep young children interested. The illustrations are drawings but accurate, detailed and colourful.

A book to enjoy reading together but also for children to look through by themselves. Thoroughly recommend this one!