2 out of 4 stars
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Will bravery save Doug the slug? Can Tawny’s sister be rescued? New Stories from the Island of Bermuda by Joya E. Georgiafay J.N. Kezas is a collection of four children’s stories set on the author’s native island, Bermuda. Published in 2014, this is the author’s second children’s book.
“Tawny and the Forbidden Swimming Hole” is a cautionary tale about eight-year-old twins who disobey their mother and swim in a dangerous swimming hole “down the rocks.” “Tawny and the Lobsters Under the Bed” finds five-year-old Tawny…well, with lobsters under her bed. Somby the snail is grateful for his life, and fortunately for Doug the slug, Weeble the beetle only eats slugs when they are dead. The author’s stated intention with her stories is to “delight young readers and instruct them on the right way to behave.”
Kezas interweaves themes of bravery, obedience, faith, and friendship with a range of emotional experiences, from fun and curiosity to danger and fear. Some of the imagery in two of the stories could be disturbing to some younger readers. In the lobster story, a terrified five-year-old Tawny has fainted after witnessing her father overpower a writhing, half-scalded lobster that is desperately trying to escape a pot of boiling water. She is then made to sleep with the bag of remaining live lobsters under her bed. I could not identify the moral of this story, save the unintentional promotion of vegetarianism.
The stories are each about thirty pages long with small illustrations and no chapter divisions. The simple language and the illustrations suggest younger readers may have been targeted, but some of the themes and content reflect an age range of 7-10. The book’s artwork is a mix of small photographs, clip art, and drawings, of varying quality. The art lacks a cohesive visual theme and would not likely appeal to most children.
Told in the third person plus dialogue, the stories are easy to understand. I appreciated the lyrical alliteration present in places and wished that language had carried through more of the text. My PDF copy of the book appeared to be a draft or mock-up, as the formatting was frequently off, in terms of spacing and layout. The book did not appear to be professionally edited, as I found more than ten errors in the first thirty pages.
I give New Stories from the Island of Bermuda 2 out of 4 stars. The book has the potential to be a fine collection of stories for kids if the author can reach a clear vision for the target age group, improve and unify the illustrations, and have the book professionally edited.
New Stories from the Island of Bermuda
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