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May 21, 2008 > Footnotes


"Go Away Big Green Monster" by Edward R. Emberly, Little Brown hardback, $10.99. (1993)

Some children develop fears that just won't go away, no matter how illogical they may seem. You show them the empty closet, you have them look under the bed, but they still believe in monsters. This book will go a long way toward having them gain control. Using cutout pictures, page by page the child will build the monster. Then, just as it looks its scariest, they tell it to go away again. As they turn the pages of the last half, the monster disappears piece by piece. Soon the monster is gone and they are the one to make it go away!

Recommended for preschoolers, Reviewed by dh.

"Defiance" by Valerie Hobbs, FSG hardback, $16.00. (2004)

Eleven-year old Toby is through with cancer treatments so it's a real treat now to be on a vacation in the country with his mom. In his explorations, he encounters a blind woman with an old cow. Despite appearances the woman is secretly a famous poet. She seems a little odd, sort of cantankerous. She swears the cow speaks to her, but Toby's not so sure. Still, she becomes his friend, and he likes talking to her. He also has a big secret -his cancer is back; he can feel it. And this time he's going to refuse treatment.

"Without morbidity, Hobbs ranges between tart and poignant, sorrowful rage and hope." - The Horn Book

Recommended for junior high. Reviewed by dh.

"Dragonhaven" by Robin McKinley, Putnam hardback, $17.99. (2007 )

Now that dragons have been found in the Australian Outback., it has also been determined that they are endangered. Wilderness parks have been set up where they can live without human interference. It is against the law to kill a dragon, or to take a young one and raise it. Humans rarely even see the beasts; even the park rangers in charge of protecting them have little contact.

Jake has grown up knowing about dragons. His father heads up the Institute, the American habitat. Jake knows their smell, and has seen a few in the distance. One day while on a camping trip, he is shocked to find a female dragon near death. The poacher who attacked her is dead. Before dying the female dragon communicates, in a fashion, with Jake, desperate that he do...something. He turns and discovers that she had babies, one of them is still barely alive.

Without thinking of the consequences, Jake adopts the dragonling. He soon discovers that raising this baby is extremely difficult. He is forced to lie, and later forces everyone else in the Institute to lie as well. When the dead poacher's family starts a media ruckus, demanding that all the dragons be killed as a threat to humans, Jake knows he has to be very, very careful.

After two years of raising his 'baby,' he takes the growing dragonling back to the woods. He is working with her there when the radio crackles. Government agents, warned by the poacher's family, are on their way to Jake. He must find help, someone to hide himself and the baby dragon. But there is no one. Then he hears a flap, made by a huge set of wings.

This doesn't read or feel like a fantasy but more like a book about the ability of humans to preserve a life form, even at the expense of themselves. It is also about the capability of one person to adopt and love a child with all his heart.

Beautifully written, very realistic.

Recommended for junior high. Reviewed by dh.

"Eat This Not That" by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding, Rodale Press paperback, $19.95. (2008)

Why are so many Americans struggling with obesity? One reason is that Americans love to eat out while restaurant portions get bigger and bigger. Dinner plates have become platters. The food industry spends $30 billion a year on advertising which means one little book can only do so much to help you resist. However, knowing the caloric and fat content of some of your favorite foods will at least give you pause.

Here are some gee-whiz facts from "Eat This Not That."

Burger King's Big Fish Sandwich: 640 calories
Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger: 1145 calories
Cinabon Classic Cinnamon Roll: 813 calories
P.F. Chang's Pork Lo Mein: 1820 calories

(Keep in mind that an average woman would probably need about 2000 calories to just maintain normal weight)

Shocked? The authors have gathered information from the most popular restaurants and food manufacturers, and put them into a pretty, accessible package. Luscious photographs and easy-to-read, eye-popping graphics illustrate how to choose wisely the next time you order from a menu. There is also a Menu Decoder to guide you to better choices at non-chain restaurants. Even though the book bills itself as "The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution!," this is more of a tool for increasing awareness. It's not preachy, just a fun book to pass around among big eaters.

Recommended for teenagers and anyone who dines out frequently. Reviewed by jp.

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