Molly's Reviews

Bully BrigadeBully Brigade
Betty Jo Schuler
Illustrator: Susan Scott
Disk Us Publishing

Informative Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

The book is a 44 page illustrated publication written especially for kids. "Bully Brigade" presents tools for young people to use to help them recognize bullying behavior, reasons for why bullies may be acting as they do and how to stop them. Writer Schuler offers specific explication regarding what it is that bullies do; they push, take, grab and engage in other unacceptable behaviors towards their peers. Then Schuler takes it a step further to ask, why does the reader think a bully does this or that, and do you know a bully, and does the bully begin fights with kids who are larger than he. Kids are offered a chance to do some thinking about what a bully is and why the bully may be behaving as he does. Kids are encouraged to pay attention to behavior and not be swayed by appearance. Included in the book are pages where children can answer questions and write their answers regarding what they have learned about bullies and why they intimidate. A Banish Bully Badge, which the child can cut out and wear, rounds out the work.

Educator/Author Schuler has created a thoughtful well-written work regarding a serious problem facing many children today. Bullying on the playground and elsewhere is a situation children, teachers and parents must understand, confront and deal with if we are to see bullying brought to a stop. "Bully Brigade" is written in understandable terms and is illustrated by pencil drawings certain to appeal to the target audience of primary and middle grade readers. The book is a ‘read-to’ for younger students and a ‘read alone’ for older kids.

Writer Schuler and Illustrator Scott call upon their years of experience within the public school system for material presented in "Bully Brigade". Vocabulary used is easily understood by children. Illustrations are to the point and child friendly. The book will fit well in a classroom unit setting dealing with relationships in general and bullying in particular. The book is a good choice for pleasure reading as well as unit work, and will be one a mentor student can use with ease when working with younger students.

"Bully Brigade" is a must have for the school, home school and home library. Discounts are offered for school quantity purchases. A teacher’s guide accompanies the work.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Betty Jo Schuler
Cover: Susan Bodendorfer
Writers Exchange ePublishing

Fun Read … Recommended … 4.5 stars

Red haired Randy O'Rourke is a pretty normal kid: he doesn't much care for chores or homework. He does enjoy hanging out with his best friend Jake and he enjoys tinkering with things. Randy has already invented an injector to fill hot dogs with mustard, a page turner for turning pages of books, and a self cleaning fish bowl. So, what does Randy do? Why he builds himself a robot, of course. He builds himself a robot to do his chores and homework. And this is not just any old robot but a robot with blue glass eyes, a heart carefully painted on his chest and himself polished until he sparkles. This is Brain a robot whose blue eyes glisten when he feels hurt, red heart glows when he is praised and communicates by 'mind talk' with Randy. Not only that, Brain blinks when he is touched. Before long Randy is getting excellent marks on his homework and all his chores are done to perfection. On the other hand Randy is failing tests in his classroom and Mom and Dad are concern because Randy has too much free time to spend with Jake or in just sitting around and doing nothing. Mom is worried that Randy isn't kind enough to the robot, and Dad is concerned that Randy's muscles will turn to mush. Brain has been programmed to do many things when glitch after glitch begins to appear. It doesn't take long before Brain is out of control and Randy must face some facts about both his robot and himself as well.

In "Brainman" Writer Schuler has crafted an inviting tale sure to appeal to the funny bone of kids in the 10-14 year old set. Boys and girls alike can identify with Randy and his dislike for having to face his home and school responsibilities. Few kids relish either chores or homework. Schuler quickly sets the scene with Randy, Brain and Jake, Jacob Silverman, introduced from the outset. Randy's parents and little sister Suzy appear within the first ten pages. Brain's possibilities those programmed and those appearing on their own as well as his increasing glitches appear immediately.

Schuler draws the reader into the tale set down in "Brainman" with Randy's description of Future World, an amusement park where he got his idea for having a robot of his own. Reader interest is maintained as Brain begins to show a personality of his own and Randy is forced to deal with realities of what he has created.

Vocabulary used on the pages of "Brainman" is well within the scope of most middle grade youngsters. The PDF format is easily used. "Brainman" should fit well into the free time reading program for the classroom, home schoolers and kids' own pleasure reading as well as having value for a unit on responsibility and thinking ahead. Intuitive thinking and anticipating outcome are attributes often underdeveloped or completely lacking in most youngsters. "Brainman" may prove a valuable tool as parents and teachers guide youngsters toward critical thinking for anticipating outcome to action.

Enjoyed the Read, Happy to recommend.

Double TroubleDouble Trouble Ditto Box
Betty Schuler
Illustrator: Susan Bodendorfer
Writers Exchange ePublishing

Another Fun Read … Recommended … 4. 5 stars

Red haired, green eyed inventor Randy O'Rourke is back. This time his invention is a ditto box that can copy anything. When Randy's best friend Jake Silverman get the secret signal by telephone he rushes over to see the new invention. And the boys begin to copy, homework, Jake's baseball mitt and even his dog Asthma. But almost as soon as they copy the friends realize something is wrong, the machine copies backwards unless you are very careful when you put the thing inside, not only that Asthma's clone Sneeze loves Jake, not Randy. When Mom tells Randy he must baby-sit his little sister Randy decides to copy Suzy. Now there are two whiny threes little sisters for him to contend with. And his trouble has only begun. Now the box has gone crazy and makes 48 copies of everything before one by one the copies begin to disappear.

Former elementary school teacher turned writer Schuler gets right inside the thinking of ten to twelve year olds as she writes her engaging series featuring Randy O'Rourke. As with the first in the series "Double Trouble Ditto Box" also is made up of fast paced eleven chapters sure to captivate kids of the target age. Boys and girls alike will find much to enjoy in the story of a clever boy and his determination to beat the odds and find the easy way to take care of homework, baby sitting and other responsibility facing him.

One important lesson taught in "Double Trouble Ditto Box" 'Imitation rarely comes up to the standard of the original'. Schuler presents another well developed work in "Double Trouble Ditto Box", reader interest is piqued right from the opening lines when we find Randy putting the finishing touches on his latest invention. Reader interest is held fast as we read the various problems and 'solutions' Randy encounters before he finally comes to understand that sometimes there are no easy ways out and we must simply do what is expected.

Vocabulary used in "Double Trouble Ditto Box" centers on the target audience of middle grade readers. The narrative will appeal to 8-9 year olds having strong reading skills, and will be enjoyed by the 10-14 age group as well. "Double Trouble Ditto Box" is sure to prove an asset to the home and school library where it will be used for pleasure reading as well as fill a need for use in a classroom unit about responsibility and thinking ahead.

Enjoyed the read, Happy to recommend.




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© 2005 by Molly Martin