Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review - Signs of Trouble

Signs of Trouble
The first paragraph of Signs of Trouble puts you into the shoes of the main characters, Amy and Kim. Excited to be on a field trip with their special education classmates, they enter a shopping mall and take in the intense aromas and sounds of the setting. The sounds and some other distracting events, like needing to use the restroom, cause Amy and Kim to get separated from their class. What will they do? They use the skills they came to the mall to practice, and some safety rules they've learned from their teacher to eventually reunite with their class.

What Mom hasn't experienced that heart-stopping feeling of getting separated from our kids? For parents of special needs children it seems even more threatening. Will they remember the rules we've told them? What if they panic and can't remember anything? What if they can't find an adult to help them? We recently had an experience at school that made me even more aware that I need to help my daughter learn good "emergency" skills.

One feature I love about "Signs of Trouble" is the creative exercises at the end of the story that could help support the learning of emergency skills. There are also some activities related to understanding learning differences, another topic that I'm planning to spend some time talking with my daughter about this Summer.

I adore the art work by Jack Foster in this book. It has the right blend of colors and shading to help children focus on the key features of the picture. The characters remind me of the increasingly popular Manga art style. Most importantly, the pictures do not conflict in any way with the text, instead they help us understand - like the picture of the telephone cord dangling feet above the heads of the girls as they wonder which number it is they're supposed to call when they get in trouble.

The story line seems like just the right level of conflict for children - not so scary as to be frightening - but clearly some problems they can relate to, like a stranger approaching them when they are already nervous about being lost. There is a fair amount of text on each page, which might make it challenging for early readers, but the story line is straightforward and well stated. Overall this is a great book to read if these are topics you would like to talk about with your children or students.

Disclosure: Janet Ann Collins, author of "Signs of Trouble," is a writing acquaintance of mine. We've only met once in person, but correspond a bit by e-mail and facebook. She asked me to review her book and was kind enough to send me a pdf copy to that purpose. I received no other compensation for this review, and as always have given my honest appraisal of this lovely piece of work.


Related Posts with Thumbnails