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ôReading is a discount ticket to everywhere.ö
Summary: Abash's hopes for a normal day are ruined when Imp not only sees that Abash is wearing two left shoes but then takes a picture of them! That picture shows up on every screen in school, and Abash goes from being embarrassed to angry. Abash and Imp learn that there is a cyber bully at school, and that they need a plan to deal with him. This picture book series helps kids understand their feelings and gives them tools for confidence.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Reading Level: 2.8
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The author has done a nice job weaving several themes into this story: feelings and empathy, bullying in general, cyber bullying, and creative problem solving. The illustrations are like graphic novels, but do not carry the story in the same way. Given the amount of main text, some of the sidebars and inset boxes may be distracting to a young reader. I was a bit confused, because Abash's mood at the beginning of the book suggested he was already a victim, but we later learn that's not true.
Pros: Kids will relate to the space-age characters and the parallels to their own lives.
Cons: The Emotes themselves are simply-drawn characters. However, the page around them is very busy, from borders to busy scenes and lots of text. Also, characters are introduced without context. A-Net arrives on page 17, and Boom (a critical character) isn't introduced until page 20. Readers in this audience need need a scene to meet all of the relevant players up front.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a valuable story, but some audiences will be overwhelmed trying to read it themselves.
Educational Themes: There are a number of themes and discussions you can have with this book, beginning with empathy. There are the subjects of bullying and cyber bullying, but you also have embarrassment, jokes, and teasing, too. The vagueness of the "Talk about it" offers you a chance to ask the readers what they would say to Boom.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 2.8
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book series, emotions, self worth