3 out of 4 stars
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But Guess What! I Can Think for Myself by Judy Campbell is a children’s book about making good decisions when everyone around you is making bad ones. Tory is a young boy who has lost his father and lives with his grandmother, mother, and three brothers. His mother has become depressed over the loss of her husband, so his grandmother takes on the responsibility of raising him and his brothers. While his older brothers begin to get into trouble, Tory becomes a good example for his little brother under the guidance of his grandmother.
I admire how this book shows a realistic view of how difficult it can be for kids to make good decisions. It depicts Tory being offered drugs by multiple family members and shows that not all adults are good role models. The book also teaches lessons about finding good role models and building bonds with them, as shown through the relationship between Tory and his grandmother. In addition, the story can remind kids that they are often role models for others, like Tory is for his little brother.
In terms of the construction of the story, I liked how the pictures and fonts added to the personal nature of the plot. Each picture was clearly drawn by hand, but the author added frames around them during editing, so they look like they could be hanging on the walls of Tory’s home. The story centers around a rap written by Tory about making good decisions, which is built over time from his experiences at home and in his neighborhood. Each time a piece of the rap is included, the font changes to indicate that these are his words. However, I wish the author would have picked a font that was a little easier to read.
Although I enjoyed how this book could appeal to kids by showing the real challenges they face, I would like to see the author get it professionally edited. I found a variety of grammatical and typographical errors, and the formatting didn’t feel professional either. In addition, some of the rhymes and rhythms in Tory’s rap felt forced, and I think the author could edit it further to make it a more polished product.
Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I really liked how honest the author was with readers, but I think it could use a professional editor to truly make it marketable. I would recommend this book to parents and teachers for use with kids ages 5 to 10. I will mention that the book includes religious themes, so not all parents may approve of it. It also covers a variety of adult themes, including drug and alcohol use and sex, so an adult should preview the book before giving it to a child. If you’re looking for a book that shows a character who can relate to kids making difficult choices, this would be a great pick for you.
But Guess What I Can Think for Myself
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