Friday, December 21, 2018

Review - A Flicker of Hope

A Flicker of Hope
by Julia Cook
illustrated by MacKenzie Haley
Date: 2018
Publisher: National Center for Youth Issues
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

HOPE is our children's window for a better tomorrow. In terms of resilience and well-being, hope is a critically important predictor of success. This creative story from the best-selling author of My Mouth is a Volcano!, and Bubble Gum Brain, reminds children that dark clouds can be temporary and asking for help is always okay. We all have times when we need to borrow a little hope from someone else. When your clouds get too dark, and too heavy to push away, Reach out and ask, "Can I borrow some light?" "I'm having a really bad day."

It's always okay to admit to yourself, "I just can't do it today."

Everyone needs somebody sometimes, to help them find their way.

(see this book on Goodreads)

I'm not a fan of books like this. I guess I keep trying them because I have hope... but they disappoint me nearly every time.

The main problem is that the message doesn't match the audience. It's a book all about having hope--and not killing yourself when times get tough. The problem is, it concentrates on a lot of non-problems like getting a bad grade or kids saying mean things about your interests. The child who really needs a book like this is going to have much bigger things on their mind. If you're suicidal because you're being viciously bullied because of your sexuality or gender identity, or because you (or someone you care about) has a severe physical or mental illness, a silly little book featuring pictures of phallic candles and sappy platitudes is not going to make you feel better.

The whole book is one big metaphor about your "light", and that's represented by anthropomorphized candles. After a while, the metaphor starts to feel way too obvious, and it starts to get annoying. The parts that lapsed into rhyming text didn't help. The text is also a little confusing in spots. It talks about how, "when a flame goes out before its time, hearts that are left behind are broken forever." So... that's talking about suicide, right? But, just a few pages back, it says "if your flame goes out, you might not be able to relight it." Might not? So there's still a chance? Well, no. It's kind of hard to relight your flame if you're dead. (If you're going to use a metaphor like this, it needs to be consistent and not confusing.)

The text also drums into the reader that if you need help, you should ask for it. And if someone won't help you, ask someone else... and if they won't help, ask someone else. This could be dangerous, especially if the child isn't listened to and isn't believed, as it would just reinforce the fact that they're doing someone wrong and aren't worthy of being helped. I would've rather seen advice on choosing which people to ask for help to get the best results. (Related to this is advice for parents at the back of the book that tells them not to "fix" their kids' problems. Again, this could end up being dangerous, especially if the child is being severely bullied, or if they're in need of the parent's help for doing something like finding a health professional. It's not realistic to expect kids to fix their problems 100% by themselves.)

I doubt anyone ever killed themselves solely over getting a C on a test. Because this book pretty much ignores the things that really would cause kids to be suicidal and snuff out their flame, I can't recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and National Center for Youth Issues for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment