Two Very Different, but Important Books

by Rita Plush |

“Raise Your Hand” by Alice Paul Tapper

Illustrated by Marta Kissi

Children’s Fiction 4+

Penguin Workshop, $17.99

“My name is Alice Paul Tapper, but you can call me Alice,” author Tapper says on the opening page of “Raise Your Hand” (from now on I will), personalizing her engaging story from the get go. The illustrations even resemble her photo.

But before I get to the book itself, I want readers to know how this sixth-grader received a $25,000 advance from a major publisher, a matching gift from Oprah, appeared on TV to talk about it (“The Ellen Show” for one, with her journalist father, Jake Tapper), caught an endorsement from Girl Scouts USA (there’s now a Raise Your Hand patch), and authored her bestselling book.

It began when Alice noticed boys raised their hands and answered in class more than girls. She discussed it with her parents. Wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times about girls being embarrassed to give a wrong answer, and brought the matter up with her Girl Scout troop, suggesting a patch that would encourage girls to raise their hands in class and be more confident about using their voices. Then off she went to the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, which represents more than 62,000 girls in the Greater Washington, D.C. region.

Alice is proud of being a Girl Scout she tells readers. She likes to learn new things with her troop. Horseback riding, canoeing, even going down a zip line on a ropes course that makes her “really nervous,” she’s up for the challenge. But when she volunteered in class one day and gave a wrong answer, her face hot, her heart thumping in her chest, she “tried not to look at anyone as [she] sunk lower in her seat.” When it came to answering again, she held back.

A thoughtful youngster, she observed how the boys in her class were not intimidated by being wrong. She noticed that some girls didn’t answer at all. One day, “not one girl raised her hand the whole day!” When she brought the matter up with her Girl Scout troop, she discovered they too had experienced the same anxiety about raising their hands and giving the wrong answer. It was “too scary,” “people might laugh at me.” Alice and her friends all nodded.

Through Alice’s efforts, the Raise Your Hand pledge and patch program was born. “Its message is that girls should have confidence, step up and become leaders by raising our hands.” Marta Kissi’s round-faced, large-eyed cheerful characters adorn the pages, enforcing Alice’s positive message: “Raise Your Hand! Even if the answer is wrong you’ll be proud of [yourself] for trying.” Alice has donated both her book advance and Oprah’s gift to support the Girl Scouts’ Raise Your Hand programs. All proceeds from the book go to the Girl Scouts. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In,” Mindy Kaling and Robin Roberts love this book. So does Rita Plush! Here’s a link to the Raise Your Hand program: www.gscnc.org/raiseyourhand

 

“Stuck in Bed”

The pregnancy bed rest picture book for kids…and moms

by Jennifer Degl and Angela Davids

Illustrations: Jennifer Lynn Becker

Amazon, $14.99

Take it from authors Jennifer Degl and Angela Davids, being “Stuck in Bed” with a high risk pregnancy “doesn’t have to be all bad.” And these two moms know their subject well.

Degl endured six weeks of home and hospital bed rest due to a life-threatening case of placenta accrete (the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall), when her youngest child was just 3 years old. Davids spent a total of 21 weeks on bedrest during her two pregnancies and faced many complications. Both mothers’ babies survived, and despite their travails (or because of them) Degl and Davids want to share their experience and show prospective moms how they can enjoy this time in their lives despite doctor’s orders.

Done in rhyme, the picture book explains to a small boy why his mother can’t get out of bed – “…the baby just needs [her] to rest.” – but they can still have fun.

Lighthearted and informative too, spreads contain upbeat rhymes moms can read to their children and a practical “Tip!” that will help their families cope. Facing pages illustrated by Jennifer Lynn Baker depict the text with an abundance of blue and yellows, imparting both a calm and sunny atmosphere. Round faces and forms enhance the cheerful tone of the book.

“‘I love you so very much,’ my mommy said. ‘We’ll get really good at snuggling, here in my bed!’” The Tip: “Also tell your partner how much you love them and appreciate them. They may be overwhelmed with their additional responsibilities … make time to connect.”

The authors address the child’s anxieties at not having his mother on call to care for him as usual. Who will toast his bread? he asks. “Grandma or Grandpa can do it instead,” she assures the boy. When he pleads he wants her to do it, she tells him they’ll sing and play games, “and put toys in the bed.” Mom promises “books will be read.” He can even “…eat snacks in [her] bed. This might be fun, said a voice in [his head].”

At the back of the book are decoratively framed blank sections for mothers to tell their own stories. The authors suggest they write to their child about the “fun things” they’ll do together during the mother’s time in bed. There’s a place for a message she can leave her bed-rest-baby to read in the years ahead. The book can be a keepsake of their special time together, a nice personal touch to a very personal story.

From the research I did and the online reviews I read, I found very few books that address the subject of mothers on bed rest. “Stuck in Bed” fills an important niche for those families who are affected, and will help young children understand a difficult situation.

About the Author
Rita Plush

Rita Plush

Rita Plush is book columnist for the Fire Island News. Author of two novels and a short story collection, she teaches creative writing at Queensborough Community College. Rita is a speaker on decorative arts and presents her Power Point talk on “Coco Chanel~The Woman The Legend,” at libraries, synagogues and other venues.

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