Posts tagged ‘peer pressure’

PIECES OF OURSELVES #fragments

In partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Big Ideas Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection

Written by Maura Pierlot

Ages 12+ | 126 Pages

Publisher: Big Ideas Press | ISBN-13: 978-0645099805

I feel like I’m a piece, a fragment that’s missing all the good bits, but I don’t know where to find the rest … the parts I need to work properly. I bet they wouldn’t fit anyway. (Lexy, age 17)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Eight young people navigating high school and beyond, each struggling to hold on – to family, to friends, to a piece of themselves. Perhaps you know them. The bubbly girl who keeps telling you she’s okay. The high achiever who’s suddenly so intense. The young teen obsessed with social media. The boy challenged by communication. Every single day they, and others, are working hard to keep it together. So hard, they don’t see their friends are struggling, too. Through eight imagined stories, Fragments moves from a place of disconnection to connectedness.

The action of Fragments takes place in the minds and hearts of an ordinary group of young people. Their stories encompass anxiety, depression, neurodivergence, gender dysphoria, social media, bullying, family dysfunction, cross-cultural diversity, and more, culminating in a sense of hope. Although set in Australia, their stories could take place anywhere.

From the Playwright: Rarely presenting as neat packages, mental health issues often involve feelings and behaviors with jagged edges and blurred origins. Fragments embodies the theme that stress at home, at school, and in life is challenging young people beyond their usual coping abilities, leaving them disenfranchised and vulnerable. So much of adolescent life is spent looking inwards that it’s perhaps not surprising that mental health issues are often internalized. I wrote Fragments to start a conversation. It’s only when we speak openly about mental health issues – without fear or judgment – that we can chip away at the stigma that prevents many people from seeking help. It is my hope that the work will find its way into schools in Australia and overseas. The publication includes a comprehensive Study Guide, detailing activities and curriculum links for English, Drama/Arts, Health & PE, Civics, and more.

A powerful and timely mental health resource for young people and their families. Essential reading for high school.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gZPBCJ

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/a/2078/9780645099805

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Fragments-Maura-Pierlot/9780645099805

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maura Pierlot is an award-winning author and playwright who hails from New York but has called Canberra, Australia home since the early 1990s. Her writing delves into complex issues including memory, identity, self, and, more recently, mental health. Following its sellout 2019 season in Canberra, Maura’s debut professional theatre production, Fragments is being adapted for the digital space, supported by artsACT. The work is published online by Australian Plays Transforms and in print by Big Ideas Press.

Maura is a past winner of the SOLO Monologue Competition, Hothouse Theatre for her play, Tapping Out. Her plays have been performed in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, and Hollywood. A former medical news reporter and editor of Australian Medicine, Maura also writes for children and young adults. In 2017 she was named winner of the CBCA Aspiring Writers Mentorship Program, and recipient of the Charlotte Waring Barton Award, for her young adult manuscript, Freefalling (now True North). Maura’s debut picture book, The Trouble in Tune Town won the 2018 ACT Writing and Publishing Award (Children’s category) along with international accolades.

Maura’s poetry, short stories, microfiction, and essays appear in various literary journals and anthologies. Maura has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate, each in philosophy, specializing in ethics. When she’s not busy writing, Maura visits schools and libraries as a guest reader and speaker, serves as a Role Model for Books in Homes, and contributes reviews for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s online magazine, Reading Time.

For further information on Maura and her work, Fragments please visit: https: //maurapierlot.com and https: //fragmentstheplay.com.

GIVEAWAY

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Fragments and a $50 Amazon gift card!

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

https://gleam.io/bJGIX/fragments-giveaway

A copy of Fragments

A $50 Amazon gift card

Four (4) winners receive:

A copy of Fragments

The giveaway begins September 6, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends October 6, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

MY REVIEW OF FRAGMENTS:

FRAGMENTS: Journeys from Isolation to Connection

Written by Maura Pierlot

Fragments is a series of monologues that lend a voice to issues of mental health faced by teens all over the world today. In these monologues, readers follow the struggles of eight teens who seek hope as they fight mental health challenges. Each fight to maintain their connections to family, friends, and the community in which they live. The monologues are representative of the issues faced by youth and adults in the challenging times of which we live.

The actors represent young people around the world struggling with emotional, social, physical, and mental issues during their teenage years. As they reveal themselves, readers at once laugh, cry, feel their pain, and empathize with one or more of the issues described. The actors may appear to be disconnected, but in truth, they are seeking the possibility of connecting with one another.

The study guide included delineates themes, the background of characters, summaries of each monologue, and curriculum guide. While the monologues are matched to the Australian curriculum for high school studies, it can readily be adapted to standards used around the world.

Pierlot’s play provided her audience an opportunity to witness the problems and challenges facing youth today. Now readers of Fragments are given the opportunity to read and ponder the insights of these teens into the causes of mental issues and the realities they present for those who are suffering. Highly recommended read and discussion opportunity for teens and adults.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, September 6, 2021The Children’s Book ReviewTour Kick-OffFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Tuesday, September 7, 2021Over Coffee ConversationA guest article fromMaura Pierlot
Wednesday, September 8, 2021The Fairview ReviewA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Thursday, September 9, 2021Tales of a Wanna-Be SuperHero MomA book giveaway ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Friday, September 10, 2021A Dream Within a DreamA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Monday, September 13, 2021icefairy’s Treasure ChestA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Tuesday, September 14, 2021Life Is What It’s CalledA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Wednesday, September 15, 2021Barbara Ann Mojica’s BlogA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Thursday, September 16, 2021Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Friday, September 17, 2021The Momma SpotA book review ofFragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection
Saturday, September 18, 2021The Momma SpotAn interview withMaura Pierlot

HANDLE WITH CARE

Mr. Hoopeyloops Meets Rex A Very Clumsy Boy

Written by Andi Cann

Illustrated by Fabrice Bertolotto

This is the second book of a series featuring Mr. Hoopeyloops, a talented glassmaker. When Rex, a medium-size boy, overhears Mr. Hoopeyloops telling James he needs an assistant, Rex immediately decides he wants to job.

Now Rex has a reputation for being clumsy and awkward. He constantly breaks things. That is why everyone calls him Rex. He has short arms and big feet like a T-Rex. When Rex visits the glassmaker’s shop, he slips and breaks something. But Mr. Hoopeyloops is willing to train Rex.

One day Mr. Hoopeyloops calls the townspeople to view his newest creations. Rex’s classmates are astonished to learn Rex is working at the shop. They decide they have made a mistake and learn to change their ways.

This book teaches children how to stand up to bullying, develop resilience, and set high goals for themselves. While all children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and story, I would especially recommend it for children in the six to ten age range who are beginning to experience peer pressure.

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WHO’S AT FAULT?

Blame the Child – It’s Easier: Learning Difficulties Can Be Solved!

Written by Henry Blumenthal

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This book portrays a common sense approach based on the author’s lifelong experiences in education. He bases his conclusions on study and experience which dictates it is far wiser to withhold blame and take an objective and realistic approach to the difficulties manifested in the learning process.

Student victims are often stressed because of the undue pressures placed upon them by parents, teachers and other students. The author attempts to explore flaws in the educational system, parents and supporting personnel. There are many reasons why a student falls behind, excessive absence, changing schools, peer pressure, and poor foundation in basic learning concepts. The system often finds it easier to do a complete psychological testing rather than allow the teacher to discover a particular educational diagnosis of a specific weakness that can be easily remedied. Some teachers move too quickly, teach only in large groups, and do not allow for individual differences. Placed under stress by school districts, teachers feel compelled to cover everything in the curriculum rather than ensuring a firm foundation for future learning. Understanding rather than memorization should be the goal. Teachers need to acknowledge that they too have weaknesses. Rather than fall into the trap of labeling and treating with medication, they should investigate possible symptoms of learning problems.

Blumenthal provides teachers with suggestions for teaching as well as hints for parents. He explores new ways of testing, approaches to curriculum and suggestions for incorporating good nutrition in successful learning environments, as well as productive ways to assess successful teaching. Instead of blaming, parents, students, teachers, and medical personnel can share in their success.

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WHAT’S IN THE SUITCASE?

Mr. Brown’s Suitcase

Written by Kate Hughes

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An interesting novel set in England explores the life at home and school of a middle school boy. Jez is understandably confused and bitter. His step-dad Steven is an out of work alcoholic who resents him, while favoring his two young sons Josh and Cal. Mum is so fearful of him that she has developed agoraphobia, refusing to go out alone even to shop for food. Jez has assumed responsibility for bringing food home and getting his brothers to school. He attempts to cover his problems by being a rebel at school.

One day, his teacher Mrs. Wright becomes ill. A substitute named Mr. Brown rapidly turns the tables on the out of control students in the class. Mr. Brown has only two rules; raise your hand to say something and treat others the way you want to be treated. At first Jez continues his mischievous behavior, but later becomes intrigued by the soft spoken man who makes learning interesting and rewards students by allowing them a peek in his secret suitcase. Jez is dying to know what is in it.

In the meantime, things get worse at home. Jez becomes the man of the house, but learns that he is not as tough as he thinks when neighborhood bullies try to lure him into vandalism and shoplifting. He discovers a hidden artistic talent which Mr. Brown encourages him to develop. Overhearing a conversation by chance, Jez decides he must act. He is really scared, but he forces himself to contact someone who will change all their lives for the better and give the family a new start.

This book honestly explores the issues of peer pressure, divorce, alcoholism and domestic violence that many children must face each day. The author does not preach or reveal solutions, but allows her protagonist to show the possibilities by trial and error. Children age nine or ten and older should find the story appealing and informative.

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SUMMER ANGST

Indian Summer

Written by Tracy Richardson

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Twelve year old Marcie Horton is feeling good about finishing the last day of school, but at the same time is dreading the upcoming summer. While she has always enjoyed spending time at her grandparents’ home on Lake Pappakeechee, this year is different. None of her friends will be going.

Marcie is a talented and competitive athlete, but not one of the “popular girls” at school. Her discomfort is increased when the parents of one of these girls inform her that they have just built a huge house on the lake, and invite her to spend time at their home with their daughter, Kaitlyn.

As the summer unfolds, things get more and more complicated. Kaitlyn pushes Marcie to make decisions with which she is not comfortable. Her loyalties are torn between peer pressure and family. When Kaitlyn’s father plans a development that will threaten the existing lake environment, Marcie is again forced to choose. To make matters worse, strange visions are haunting Marcie. She feels as if she in living both in the past and present. An unexpected turn of events allows her to be drawn by some mystical force to make a miraculous discovery.

In some ways the plot is predictable, yet the characters are compelling and so well-drawn that I read the book in one sitting. This book hits on so many issues that face tweens and teens. A bit of magic, history, fantasy, coming of age, environmental issues, family, and loyalty all combine to make one entertaining story With a page count of just over two hundred pages, it is a bit long for a middle grade read, but the book is a comfortable and easy read. Recommended for ages ten and above with lots of appeal for both boys and girls.

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FRIENDS OR FOES

The Jade Dragon

Written by Carolyn Marsden and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh

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This is the story of two second grade Chinese girls struggling to find their identity. Ginny was born in America and is being raised by Chinese parents who follow traditional customs and live out their Chinese culture. Stephanie, on the other hand, was born in China and has been adopted by white, Anglo-Saxon parents and does everything possible to avoid anything that associates her with being Chinese.

When Ginny arrives at school for the new year, she is delighted to find that this year there is another Chinese girl in her all white school. Stephanie tries to avoid her because she does not like being “different.” Ginny tries her best to make friends and finally succeeds because Stephanie’s mother would like her daughter to be exposed to her Chinese culture. When Stephanie visits Ginny, her mother is insulted because Stephanie won’t even try to eat Chinese food. Stephanie wants to play with blonde haired dolls and American toys. She makes fun of Ginny for wearing a traditional Chinese dress, and makes Ginny feel bad that her mother refuses to allow her to wear a party dress like that of Stephanie. As the girls get to know each other better, they exchange secrets. Ginny admits that she does not always like eating Chinese food, learning Chinese calligraphy and eating traditional Chinese foods. Stephanie admits that sometimes she wishes that she were not adopted and that she lived in China so that her parents would look like her. It is so hard to deal with the stares of people who see her walking with her American parents. The two girls trade gifts. Ginny is terrified that her mother will discover she has given her jade good luck dragon to Stephanie. At one point the girls become so close that they wear matching friendship necklaces, but that friendship is threatened when Stephanie becomes jealous of Ginny’s new talents learned in Chinese school. Will these two girls who seem to have so much in common find a common bond to develop and nurture their friendship?

This story is set in the 1980’s which does make some of the variables a bit different. I do believe the conflicts and struggles do present many similar challenges in the twenty first century, even though the times present us with more diversification in schools and communities. The story still speaks to immigrant and adopted children who are coping with similar situations. Targeted reading audience is age seven through ten. The one hundred sixty page book might present an independent reading challenge for children at the lower end of that range even though it is written fairly well and the vocabulary is generally not too difficult. Dialogue seems appropriate and flows well. There is a glossary with Chinese language expressions at the end for interested readers. This book will make a great addition to elementary classroom multicultural libraries.

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MIND GAMES

A Diamond in my Pocket: Book One of The Unaltered Series

Written by Lorena Angell

 

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Calli Courtnea is leading a fairly ordinary teen life in Ohio when one day she is whisked off to a new world that is anything but ordinary. She has always been an independent spirit, but Calli is somewhat a bright loner unwilling to give in to peer pressure. Recently, she has joined the school track team. On this day, she has broken both the world and the school record in the 100 meter race. Strange thing about all of  this; Calli has no idea how this happened! A beautiful woman named Mrs. Winter convinces Calli and her parents that she should attend a training camp for Olympic hopefuls in Montana. So Calli is transported there immediately.

What an eerie place she finds! Most of the athletes are younger than her sixteen years. They do not welcome her. She is ignored and taunted by them as a “muck,” which means slow runner. When Mrs. Winter calls her into her office, things get even worse. Calli is informed that she has been summoned here not to train for the Olympics, but because she has been granted special powers by cosmic rays that travel through the universe and altered her at birth. The children who are Runners have been chosen to transmit important communications. There are two other groups that have been given special powers, the Healers and the Seers.  Not much time passes before Calli finds out that she has been assigned with two other teams of Runners to rescue three of their own members who have been held hostage by the Shadow Demons.  These powerful spirits lurk outside in the night and possess the ability to rip you to death instantly. Why does Mr. Bates choose her to hold the Diamond in her pocket that will be the ransom to secure the hostages? Calli is mystified.

Because she is the slowest runner, Calli needs to be assisted by Justin or Chris who are much quicker than she. Calli has been developing a crush on Chris who, at first, appears to be much older and wiser than the others. Once on the journey Calli finds out that her powers are growing exponentially. She also  possesses the power of a Healer and like the Seers is able to peer into the future and know its outcome. Calli becomes confused and frightened as she is able to scare off her enemies and safeguard her fellow teammates. She will learn that when she uses her powers; she must respect the boundaries of nature and that she cannot impose her will upon others.

Will Calli and the Runners be successful in rescuing their friends and foiling the plans of the Shadow Demons? Does Calli succeed in learning how to use her powers in this strange new world or will she be able to control them and return to her world on earth? Teens will identify with themselves and their peers in the challenges that these well developed characters must face. The dialogue is well written with many twists and turns in the plot that definitely hold the reader’s interest. Good beginning to a new series.

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