#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Ara the Star Engineer: Komal Singh


SYNOPSIS: Ara the Star Engineer inspires kids – especially girls and children of color – to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as it follows a 6-year old girl, Ara, on a quest to build an algorithm to solve a big problem (suspense!).

During her adventure, Ara is helped by a diverse set of real-life women engineering leaders of color — a Tenacious Troubleshooter, Code Commander, Prolific Problem Solver, Intrepid Innovator. The book teaches basic problem solving & computer science concepts along the way in a whimsical manner. Ara also includes an attached mini-booklet with a deeper tech dive, and online activity sheets with hands-on tech activities.

All profits from the book sales will be donated to charities encouraging women’s and girls’ participation in STEM fields. This book is not an official Google product; but a grassroots, passion project of Google employees in their personal capacity striving for an equitable future for all girls.

MY THOUGHTS: First and foremost, I love this book! It isn’t just for girls. Boys can gain just as much knowledge from it as their female counterparts can. I love that the cast of characters Ara visits are real-life, superwomen. Their jobs aren’t just described. They are elaborated on so that ages 5+ can understand completely what each job entails. I’ll readily admit it- I learned a lot from this book! Anyone who has ever gone cross-eyed when someone mentioned ‘algorithms’ needs to read this too!

This is the PERFECT STEM book. But, it goes far beyond that label. It’s also a career guide. Readers who are already interested in tech can pinpoint career possibilities based off the descriptions given. It has a strong message, too. Never give up. Ara faces obstacles in her quest, but, she continues to work hard, no shortcuts, and perseveres. Yes, it’s also a female empowerment anthem. Female readers, especially impressionable ages, need role models. They need to know that it’s ok to be feminine, intelligent, and successful as a total package like the women in this book. It can also be incorporated into homeschool curriculums with classes such as math & tech.

This is the type of children’s book we need more of. Entertaining, educational, and with an outstanding message, it is 5 stars for our Star Engineer!

About the Author:
Komal Singh works at Google as a Program Manager in Engineering. As a techie, a mother, and an immigrant, she’s passionate about using technology as an enabler and an equalizer for all. She takes part in kids’ coding clubs, sits on hackathon judge panels, and volunteers with nonprofits on technology development.
ISBN: 978-1-989025-05-5 • Hardcover • $15.95 USD • $19.95 CDN
*The pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

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#Sponsored Book Spotlight: A Rainbow in Her Pocket: Amanda Jayne


SYNOPSIS:Have you ever seen a sheep standing tiptoe on the ears
of a very tall giraffe while a crowd looks on and cheers?
And have you seen an owl helping them to tug
a rainbow from the sky, like a multi-colored rug?
This is the story of Mala the rhino who can’t help feeling blue after her friend moves away. Her friends, an owl, a sheep and a not-so-humble giraffe get together with sun and create a crazumptious plan to show Mala that blue is as beautiful as all the other colors. This colorful story of friendship, love and loss will delight children while encouraging them to embrace their emotions in a healthy way.

MY THOUGHTS: Amanda Jayne has crafted her book in order to explain that all feelings are okay to have. I understand her intention and her intentions are good. However, if I am interpreting her correctly, blue is representative of depression. If that is correct, I would have liked to see more help for the rhino. She needed someone (animal or human) to give her better guidance. In this way, I felt the story was muddled.

Even younger readers, who will enjoy the multi-colored scenes, need to know that resources- fictional or not- are available when they feel blue. Perhaps I am overcomplicating the story. But, when we get into these types of topics, it’s a very fine line. Children already know how to be sad. It’s overcoming sadness that children need to be advised in.

Amanda Jayne did start off strong in the first several pages when our rhino’s friend moves away. That is a relatable subject that could have moved into different, realistic ways that Mala’s friends could have helped. Just because they are animals doesn’t mean that they can’t impact readers. If you go about it as simply a colorful children’s book, it’s a decent story. But, if you are looking for ways to help a child who is sad or depressed even, then a different book may be for you. I give it 3 stars.
*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review all opinions are mine
**Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

Guest Post: Author Amanda Jayne

Author Amanda Jayne on the inspiration behind ‘A Rainbow in Her Pocket’.
A Rainbow in her Pocket started many years ago – not the story itself, but the desire for sadness and other emotions to be seen as okay. I had some challenges when growing up and, as happens in many families, feelings were avoided at all costs. I spent many years learning about emotions and how vital it is to all of us to simply be allowed to feel them – without ourselves or others trying to stop them, stifle them, give advice or make them wrong. The healing that takes place when emotions are freely felt is extraordinary.
A second element of inspiration for the book came much later after visiting a wildlife park, where the sweetest young rhino named Mala lived. Her big round eyes seemed to communicate pure love and I could feel her sweetness and her innocence. She had a huge effect on me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her after I left the park.
The third inspiration came when I was playing a game with my friend’s son, Henry, who was 5 at the time. In our game of trains and tracks, Henry informed me that the man waiting in the station was very sad. I looked around the room and a wooden rainbow was lying on the floor behind me. I picked it up and began to tell Henry a story about the man and the rainbow that taught him that sadness was beautiful. He asked a million questions about the story (well, not quite a million, but many) and once we’d gone back to playing with the trains, he kept returning to the man with the rainbow in his pocket. For some reason, at that moment, Mala the rhino popped into my head and the story of A Rainbow in her Pocket appeared before me.
I started writing it that night as I find when stories come, they generally want to be written down as soon as possible. I write best when I’m in a coffee shop, surrounded by a buzz that seems to send me into my own world. The story of Mala and her friends flowed out of my pen in a local cafe over a few days and all I had to do was be there to let it come.
Once I’d finished the story and had it accepted by a publisher, I was offered a choice of illustrators to bring Mala and her friends to life. Although the illustrators were great, something felt wrong. I couldn’t get images of the brightest colours out of my mind, as if the story wanted them. After several days of struggling to choose who should illustrate, I found myself telling the publisher that I would illustrate them myself. She agreed and it was at that moment that I realised what I had let myself in for. I’d never illustrated before, I hadn’t really drawn much before, but I knew that I could do it because I loved the characters and I already had images of the pages in my head – all I had to do was start. That first line on a blank piece of paper is the hardest, after that, I gained more confidence, line by line and before I knew it, the book was done.
Since being published, several mums have contacted me to say how much their young children love the bright colours and how they are able to use the book to talk to them about emotions. One has a close relative who is terminally ill and she told me that A Rainbow in her Pocket was a great way to help her child feel the sadness around that. This is all I could want for the book. I believe that the more children grow up now being taught that feelings are there to be felt without shame or remorse, the easier they will be able to navigate in life. If A Rainbow in her Pocket can help even one or two children in this way, I’ll be very happy.

Thank you very much.

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