Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Olympics and World Peace, Part 2

The Olympics have been a big influence on my reviews the last couple weeks. With the competition quickly drawing to a conclusion I began thinking about the Closing Ceremonies. All the teams and competitors walk in to the stadium as one. No longer are they separated by their country's standards. Everyone celebrates as one body. That is what the Olympics strive to do — bring the world together in peace and happiness to celebrate achievement, character, and sportsmanship. World peace... doesn't that sound nice.

"The Peace Book"
By Todd Parr
For ages 3 – 7
• Another wonderful creation from Parr. It begins the conversations of character and values with your children at a very young age and helps instill the hope that world peace may actually be possible. Rated 4 (vibrant illustrations, good values, hope)  

For those of you unfamiliar with Todd Parr, let me give you a crash course. he writes very simplistic yet moving books that are great for preschool to early elementary-aged children. Kids love the bright and vibrant illustrations, finding them friendly and inviting. The text is easy to understand and the messages are always positive. Whether his book is about moms, dads, being yourself, or world peace, you can rest assured they teach good values and encourage bright smiles.

This time Parr explains the term, "peace" to a young audience who may see the word as confusing, especially if they happen to catch the nightly news occasionally. The lively neon hues aren't peaceful so much as exciting, but the message is strong. Mixing bold dreams of conservation and cultural differences with silly, simplified  ideas of enough pizza in the world (hunger), keeps children interested and connects on their level.

"The Peace Book" is another wonderful creation from Parr. It opens the door to begin teaching character and values to your children at a very young age and helps instill the hope that world peace may actually be possible — even if it must begin on a small scale.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Olympics and Character

I am still being inspired by the Olympics. I watched the ice dancing and ski jumping last night. Congratulations to the Canadians, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, on a moving performance and the gold medal. Tessa's name, Virtue, made me think about Olympic values and character, which also got me to thinking about books. In particular, I got to thinking about a fun chapter book series that always seems to tie character development into the adventure.

“Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo: On Thin Ice”
By Nancy Krulik
Illustrated by John and Wendy
For Ages 7 – 10
• Katie’s antics are always fun and funny with great messages about character, friendship, and seeing the world through other people’s eyes. Rate 4 (fun, magic, character lesson)

Katie is an ordinary student at Cherrydale Elementary School, except for one small detail — the magic wind. She never knows when the wind will show up or where she’ll end up when it’s finished blowing, and that makes fun and interesting situations. Think “Freaky Friday” but it’s not a mother-daughter thing.

Katie has a couple winter sports escapades. In “On Thin Ice” an Olympic skater comes to town and so does the magic wind. When Katie turns into the skater she ends up on the ice… on her bottom that is. Katie thinks of a way to fix them mess just as the magic wind returns. Suddenly Katie is a famous snowboarder and things are headed downhill quickly.

Katie’s antics are always fun and funny with great messages about character, friendship, and seeing the world through other people’s eyes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Olympics and Performance Enhancing Drugs

I saw a little of the ice dancing last night during the Olympic television coverage. Some of the outlandish costumes got me to thinking about a book I read as a child. It wasn't about skating but I loved the funny outfits the main characters wore. One was a small, mustachioed guy with wings on his helmet. The other was a very large, blue and white striped pants wearing guy with long, read pony tails. You may recognize these two as Asterix and Obelix.
“Asterix at the Olympic Games” 
By René Goscinny
Illustrated by Albert Uderzo
For Ages 5 – 10
• “Asterix at the Olympic Games” is fun comic book style storytelling filled with puns, wordplay, and silliness kids will enjoy, combined with social satire for adult interests. Rated 3 (silly, wordplay, adult satire, translation)

I read “Asterix the Gaul” when I was a kid. I always enjoyed the puns, wordplay, and character names. They were fun comic book style adventures. Asterix’s adventure at the Olympics was one of my favorites.

Originally published in France during the 1960s, Asterix’s adventures were covered in more than 30 graphic novels. They’ve been translated pretty well from French to English and are enjoyable adventures for children. However, adults are the true audience. Goscinny wove political and social satire throughout the stories — much of it is still relevant today. “Asterix at the Olympic Games,” is almost prophetic in touching on performance enhancing drugs long before the modern scandals.

“Asterix at the Olympic Games” finds the Romans near Vitalstatistix’s village excited that Glueteus Maximus is going to compete at the Greek Olympics. Much to the Roman’s chagrin the Gauls want in on the fun. Trying to gain any advantage they can, all the men in the village take Panoramix’s magic potion and head to Greece. The Greeks learn about the magic potion and threaten to disqualify the Gauls, which forces Asterix to enter on his own and without the aid of the magic potion.

Will Asterix win gold or will the Greeks and Romans reign supreme. Well, if I tell you that I’ll spoil the ending. So go out and read it yourself. It will put a smile on your face.