Hurricane Vacation by Heather L. Beal, Jasmine Mills: A cute little book with some important hurricane safety lessons for kids

Hurricane Vacation

Hurricane Vacation

by Dr. Heather L. Beal, Jasmine Mills (Illustrator)

Kindle Edition, 36 pg.
Train 4 Safety Press, 2019

Read: November 18, 2019


Heather Beal’s back with another book for early readers/pre-readers about natural disasters—this time (in case the title doesn’t give it away), it’s about Hurricanes. I really appreciate this way of educating children about these types of disasters—it’s not about facts and figures, it’s about assuring them that people can be safe in the face of disaster as well as helping them understand what’s going on.

Lily and Niko are visiting their family when a Hurricane watch is issued, so they join their family in preparing the house for the storm and getting ready to go to a shelter. Along the way, they learn about what a hurricane is as well as all the ways that people can protect themselves, themselves, and so on.

As with Elephant Wind and Tummy Rumble Quake, the information is given in an accessible way that’s mildly entertaining. Beal did a good job interweaving the information with interaction with the characters—even young readers/listeners don’t want to put up with infodumps, I guess.

I’m not sure the part of the story about Niko’s missing stuffed animal really fit—it seemed like it was tacked on as an afterthought. It may not have been one, it just felt that way. It was nice to see everyone working to make Niko feel safe (and that his toy would be safe) during this—very reassuring.

The art was cute and helped the story—I particularly enjoyed the “eye” in the storm showing how the term was misunderstood.

Beal delivers another helpful book that should be of good use for parents/grandparents/teachers/caregivers trying to help children cope with and understand the ways this world can terrify them (and adults). Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion (above)..


3 Stars

Elephant Wind by Heather L. Beal, Jubayda Sager

Elephant WindElephant Wind

by Heather L. Beal, Jubayda Sager (Illustrator)

Kindle Edition, 28 pg.
Train 4 Safety Press, 2017
Read: December 12, 2017


So the day care is having a field trip to a science fair and the local tornado siren goes off, the teacher rushes the kids to the shelter and then starts answering questions for the frightened kids. She calms them, tells them what’s going on and how they (and their parents) can stay safe in the middle of a tornado. It’s a great way to respond to a time like this and a great way to lure in the readers so they will absorb the same lessons.

Now, I’m not convinced that you’re going to get kids living in an area that has the tornado shelters and sirens, etc. that are that old and not have some clue about what’s going on (sure, maybe a couple of people who’ve just moved into the area, but not that many) — but this book isn’t trying to go for accuracy, it’s trying to teach something. Like, say, about tornado shelters and sirens to kids so they know what they are before being taken to a shelter by their day care teacher. Basically, sure, it’s a plot problem, but this book doesn’t care about things like that.

Storywise, it’s just different enough from Tummy Rumble Quake (well, this was actually published first, I guess, but I read them in this order. Still, technically, Tummy Rumble Quake is just different enough from this), which is a pretty tricky thing to pull off, but will keep some kids from tuning out — it’s not just a case of “here we go again.” The ways to stay safe are clear, and will help minimize the fearfulness of the situation.

Again, on behalf of parents with little musical ability, some tips on how to sing this mnemonic song (a tune suggestion, perhaps), would be very helpful and welcome. The inclusion of the song is a great idea.

Sager’s art did the job — good use of colors and details, without overwhelming the reader and distracting them from the text. The tornado-elephant mashup pictures were an inspired choice — one suggested by the text, no doubt, but the execution was spot-on.

A wonderful idea and I’m pretty sure a great help for those in areas where this is a lesson to be taught. I’d encourage parents and others to grab this one, too.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

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3 Stars

Tummy Rumble Quake by Heather L. Beal, Jubayda Sager

Tummy Rumble QuakeTummy Rumble Quake

by Heather L. Beal, Jubayda Sager (Illustrator)

Kindle Edition, 28 pg.
Train 4 Safety Press, 2017
Read: December 12, 2017


So the class (or whatever you call them) at this day care center is prepping for something called the Great ShakeOut (apparently a real thing — I’m glad to hear that it exists), which is an Earthquake Preparedness activity. As part of that, they learn a bit about what causes earthquakes, what to do during one to say safe, and get some questions answered about the safety of others.

So you get a little bit of a narrative — just enough to give the kids something to hang on to — and you run it through some basic lessons that are given in a way to help the reader (or person being read to) remember and learn from them. I don’t know if seismologists would use the comparison to a rumbling tummy, but how many of them write children’s books? It’s a comparison that’ll stick.

My main — really, only — gripe with this is the song. There’s no way to know how to sing this — I’m sure it’s best set to a familiar tune, but I have no idea what would work. I’d want to sing this to any kids I read this to/with — and I have so little musical ability that there’s no way I could even begin to guess what it should sound like. It’s a great idea, and just the kind of thing that’d help cement the lessons in the mind of the target audience. But without a tune, it’s just a little rhyme that isn’t nearly as effective.

Sager’s art does the job — the colors are great and eye-catching. It’s clearly drawn on a computer, but retains a hand-drawn feel. I can’t say I was dazzled by it, but I can also say that I’ve seen worse. I can’t imagine many children in the target audience wouldn’t find the illustrations suitable and effective (but probably not in those words).

This book is such a great idea — really. I like the concept, I think the execution is good, too. This is the kind of thing that’ll implant itself in little brains and stay there for years. Parents, teachers, librarians, grandparents, and so on would really do well to pick this up and put it in front of young eyes.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

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3 Stars