Saturday, September 21, 2019

Review - A Plan for Pops

A Plan for Pops
by Heather Smith
illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
Date: 2019
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Lou spends every Saturday with Grandad and Pops. They walk to the library hand in  hand, like a chain of paper dolls. Grandad reads books about science and design, Pops listens to rock and roll, and Lou bounces from lap to lap. But everything changes one Saturday. Pops has a fall. That night there is terrible news: Pops will need to use a wheelchair, not just for now, but for always. Unable to cope with his new circumstances, he becomes withdrawn and shuts himself in his room. Hearing Grandad trying to cheer up Pops inspires Lou to make a plan. Using skills learned from Grandad, and with a little help from their neighbors, Lou comes up with a plan for Pops.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

A Plan for Pops is a sweet story about a little boy and his two grandfathers. The themes of perseverance, persistence, and patience are great, as is the way Lou helps Pops come to terms with his new disability. However, I have to take a few marks off because the writing is somewhat uneven (and even confusing) in places and makes the book seem like a mediocre translation.

It looks like the book was published simultaneously in English and French, but there are a few things that make me think the French came first. Near the beginning, Lou and Grandad are discussing how umbrellas have ribs, and then they examine a paper umbrella and can't find any. (It makes me wonder if they were originally taking about something else, because ribs on a paper umbrella are not hard to see, by any means.) Then, the exclamation of "oh dear, oh dear, oh dear" is repeated both for negative and positive things. (So I'm wondering if the original text used an expression that could apply to both; "oh dear" is nearly always a negative in English.) And the third thing is the illustration of Pops in his bed next to a sign that the English text tells us reads "PULL ME!" The illustration has the words in French and says "TIRE SURE LA FICELLE" ("pull on the string"). This could be a potential source of confusion for young readers, unless they also speak French. (This is starting to become a pet peeve of mine. I've noticed that translated picture books don't always translate the text that's part of the illustrations, even when it's an integral part of the story.)

As a premise, this is really cute. Lou's relationship with his grandfathers is sweet. The men each have their own distinct personality. Lou's thoughtfulness after Pops's accident is lovely to see; all he wants to do is help Pops feel better.

Overall, this is an okay book. I like the premise and the illustrations, but the text is uneven and could be confusing. I have a feeling this book might end up being better received in Canada where most of us have at least a basic understanding of French; that sign beside Pops's bed won't necessarily send us running for an online translator.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.33 out of 5 ladybugs

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