Archive for December, 2009

SAVING BEN: A Father’s Story of Autism–A Book Review

Dear Reader,

SAVING BEN is a well written and candid memoir of a man whose teeter-totter life tips between caring for and searching for recovery for his young son who has autism and managing his sanity while his ex-wife temporarily loses hers, all while the author is coming to terms with his sexual orientation. Author Dan E. Burns, manages to fit all this chaos into 155 pages that often read more like a suspense novel than memoir. “What could possibly happen next?” (I used the book as a bribe to get me through some unpleasant home tasks. Once I completed a task, I could read another chapter.)

Parents with or without children who have autism will relate to Burns’ frustrations with doctors, the educational system, and well-meaning and not so well-meaning relatives. They will be reminded that children’s small successes are often the result of parents’ grand refusals to give up.


BEAUTY’S SECRET: A Girl’s Discovery of Inner Beauty—Book Review

Dear Reader,

Beauty’s Secret Talks To–Not At–Girls

Beauty is a much loved, intelligent, and mostly happy teen. And she is pretty. So when her less attractive best friend and she enter a contest to win the opportunity to be a spokesperson for a popular teen magazine, Beauty is a little anxious but still confident. Toward the end of the contest, though, her confidence gives way to jealousy and her obsession over her physical flaws. The more she looks at herself the less her inner beauty, her Heartlight, glows. (Yes, even pretty girls can be insecure.) Beauty goes on to examine her emotions and is reminded of a message she’s received throughout her life: “True beauty lies within.” She changes, but she does not win the contest. (Yay! This is not a fairy tale in which the girl gets what she most wants just because she’s “seen the light.”) She wins other things.

Many children’s book authors preach their message to children, tell them what to think, but author Debra Gano definitely does not. She has clearly made the decision to allow her readers to learn as Beauty learns, through experience. Gano does not say external beauty doesn’t matter, because it does. And she doesn’t deny girls are judged by, or noticed for, their looks. She encourages girls to enjoy their physical beauty and that of others, and to develop who they are on the inside.

The illustrations in Beauty’s Secret are sure to entice girls 10-14 to read the text. They feature pinks, purples, bold colors, pastels, and strong femininity, all which invite introspection, quiet, and calm. The book is beautifully packaged, and the message (what’s inside) is equally beautiful.