Posts tagged ‘journal’

ARA ROCKETS TO SUCCESS

Ara the Star Engineer

Written by Komal Singh

Illustrated by Ipek Konak

I loved this picture book which featured a determined young girl named Ara. She is aptly named for a constellation that contains seven stars. Ara is obsessed with big numbers. She introduces her readers to a number with 100 zeros, a googol. Together with her computer robot, DeeDee, Ara sets out to find out how many stars exist. They visit Innovation Plex, where Ara seeks experts to help her in her quest.

She meets Kripa, a problem solver, in the Data Center who tells her to have courage. Big Problems are solved with a plan. Next, she greets Parisa in the Ideas Lab, who creates the algorithms that permit computers to solve big problems. The next stop is the Coding Center where Diane writes code that allows the algorithm to communicate with the computer. When Ara and Dee put the plan into action, they come up with an error. So Ara visits Maria, the Troubleshooter, who installs more computing power with a new processor and memory chip. At last, they achieve success. Ara learns that collaboration and teamwork solve problems.

At the end of the book, readers find a journal record of the steps Ara followed as well as an introduction to some superheroes in computer science. There is also a glossary of technical terms from the story. The author targets this book for ages five through seven, though I would highly recommend it for older boys and girls as well. The design of the book features many bright colors and multicultural female role models. They certainly draw the eye inward but may be a bit too much stimulation for the younger reader. Hope to see many more books in this series.

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TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Ta Ta for Now! (Stories about Melissa)

Written by Bethany Lopez

TaTaforNow!pic

This is a fast paced well written story about a fourteen year old girl named Melissa, her family, and the beginning of her freshman year at Dearborn High School. The protagonist writes in a journal format spilling out her hopes, fears and emotions.

Even as an adult reader, I found myself laughing, crying and sympathizing with Melissa. The oldest child of four, Melissa describes her brothers and sisters: Megan, the seventh grader who has no pride in her appearance, Mikey, the nine year old pesky brother, and Monica, the still adorable five year old baby sister. Her parents take their responsibilities seriously and do their best to guide her.

In the beginning of the story, Melissa has just begun to make journal entries in the book Megan has bought for her birthday. Melissa is apprehensive about the first day of high school, especially because her mother is also a teacher at the school! Her life is a roller coaster. Melissa’s best friend Jess has turned into a goth and won’t even talk to her. Melissa is desperately trying to get Brian, a star athlete swimmer and football player, to pay attention to her. A new girl named Layla appears eager to befriend her. Melissa’s entries are filled with the ups and downs of a teenager’s life. There are boy troubles, family quarrels, parental disputes and problems at school.

Many of the lessons learned are not acquired without grief or hardship, but we are introduced to a young lady who is doing her best to find out who she is and how she can fit it without losing her own identity. Bethany Lopez does a good job of delineating the joys and fears as well as the trials and tribulations of a fourteen year old high school freshman. Story action moves along quickly and the sub plots involving supporting characters are seamlessly interwoven. The reader empathizes with Melissa while the supporting cast of characters alternate in lifting her up and pulling her down. Length of the story (about 150 pages) is perfect for a young teen reader. Takes you back to a time that many adult readers would like to forget.

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