Born Scared – Kevin Brooks

I recieved an e-Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. Many Thanks to Candlewick Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to do so. 

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks follows Elliot, a boy who from childhood has suffered from severe, paralyzing anxiety. Right before Christmas there’s a mix-up at the Pharmacy and Elliot is given the wrong medication. Knowing that the Pharmacy will be closed for several days for Christmas Elliot’s Mother sets out during a massive blizzard to get the correct medication for him. When his mother doesn’t return Elliot is forced to overcome his own monsters to find out what happened to her.

I had a hard time with this novel. I found it to be fairly boring for the most part. The reason why Elliot’s mom didn’t come back was really out there and highly improbable and while improbable things happen all the time it just ended up annoying me that it was what was picked for a reason. Secondly, the perspectives of Gordon, Jenner and Dake seemed out of place. I would have much rather followed Elliot the entire time until the end. I think this would have made the book more suspenseful as you would have no idea where his mom was the entire time instead of finding out halfway through the book because of these perspectives.

I was a little confused about Ellamay. It’s said early on that she is his imaginary friend from when he was little. However, the line between having an imaginary friend and having auditory/visual hallucinations gets blurred now that he’s older. I wasn’t clear as to if it was meant to be this way or if it was something that was there because it allowed for Elliot to have dialogue when there was no one around.  

The end of this book gets a little confusing. Elliot ends up waking up in the hospital. With the way that this is written it made me wonder if everything that happened to him after he finds his mom actually happened or if he’s just having withdrawal from his medication or something like a fever dream. I wish that this clarified and spread out as I think the main reason this ended up being confusing was because it felt really rushed. To go with this I wish the the effects of withdrawal from his medicine was talked about more, not just with “The Monster” coming back but also with things like headaches, nausea. Dissociation may have happened but again with how the ending is it’s unclear.  

This book wasn’t quite what I was looking for. For the most part I just wished the ending was done a little bit better and I think that this would have helped with my overall enjoyment of it.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo is a collection of stories about women throughout time and all over the world. They chose a large variety of people from well known people like Harriet Tubman, Hillary Clinton and Cleopatra to people that a lot of people don’t know about like Jingu, Tamara De Lempicka and Fadumo Dayib.

I really, really wanted to like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. As I’m writing about it I’m still conflicted about how to rate it. I loved how all everyone talked about in this book are woman. I loved how inclusive it was by having women from all around the globe and from different time periods. I loved the variance in the artwork types. I loved that these are short enough to hold a younger child’s attention, though I also wish at the same time that they were two pages long instead on just one. Finally, I loved that I only knew about 15 of the 100 people mentioned so even if an older person is reading this to their kids they’ll run into people that the don’t know and will learn along with their child/children.

There’s just one fatal flaw. Some of the illustrations have made the people they are depicted look like they are white when they are not. I this with Sonita Alizadeh first and then paging back through I saw others who didn’t seem to match their nationalities so I looked for photographs of them when possible and noticed that they did not match. This was incredibly frustrating to me, there’s no reason to whitewash in a book that is otherwise so inclusive and why would it be done to some people and not to others. I know that the illustrations in this book are from several different artists and not from the authors themselves, but it was still the authors’ choice to put these illustrations in. After noticing this it makes it very hard for me to recommend this book to read.