Official Review: New Stories from the Island of Bermuda

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Eva Darrington
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Official Review: New Stories from the Island of Bermuda

Post by Eva Darrington » 05 Oct 2018, 10:40

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "New Stories from the Island of Bermuda" by Joya Nelson Kezas.]
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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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Post by Cecilia_L » 05 Oct 2018, 14:24

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.
I feel the illustrations are such an important feature in children's books. It's a shame this one lacked visual cohesion. Thanks for your honest review.

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Post by KarinaBordas » 05 Oct 2018, 15:11

At first glance I thought that a children's book set in Bermuda would be a fun read for children. It's unfortunate that the many errors and poor art choices have deterred me from wanting to read this book. Hopefully New Stories from the Island of Bermuda will have a thorough editing and be rereleased.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 05 Oct 2018, 15:32

KarinaBordas wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 15:11
At first glance I thought that a children's book set in Bermuda would be a fun read for children. It's unfortunate that the many errors and poor art choices have deterred me from wanting to read this book. Hopefully New Stories from the Island of Bermuda will have a thorough editing and be rereleased.
I so agree with you. I think these stories have great potential. The book just needs some work. Thank you for stopping in and reading my review.
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Post by BookReader+6 » 05 Oct 2018, 15:47

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 premise of this part of the book is disturbing to me, and I can only imagine how an impressionable young child would perceive it. I think there's better ways to encourage children to become vegetarians if that was the moral of this story.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 05 Oct 2018, 16:00

BookReader+6 wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 15:47
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 premise of this part of the book is disturbing to me, and I can only imagine how an impressionable young child would perceive it. I think there's better ways to encourage children to become vegetarians if that was the moral of this story.
I was disturbed too. I don't think the intention of the story was to encourage vegetarianism, though the last line in story says the sisters never ate lobster again.... The story appeared to be intended to teach bravery. It failed, in my opinion. I felt the story was cruel and exploitive of the animal and was poor modeling for children. To be fair, island cultures would not tolerate our squeamishness about how a lobster is treated. But I am still not on board. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Post by kfwilson6 » 05 Oct 2018, 16:13

What an odd collection of stories. I don't like when the illustrations don't conform to one style. This sounds too disorganized and ill-planned.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 05 Oct 2018, 16:19

kfwilson6 wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 16:13
What an odd collection of stories. I don't like when the illustrations don't conform to one style. This sounds too disorganized and ill-planned.
Yes, it was a combination of badly-cropped photos and self-drawn pictures. They did not add to the story, which is unfortunate, considering the art in children's books is so crucial. Thanks so much for stopping by.
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Post by stacie k » 05 Oct 2018, 16:40

As you mentioned, there are several issues with this children's book. It is concerning that the target audience could easily be frightened by one of the storylines, and it's a shame that the illustrations aren't captivating. Thank you for your honest assessment of this book.
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Post by ea_anthony » 05 Oct 2018, 16:56

I jumped in here (this review), immediately I saw Bermuda, thinking maybe this was a re-imagining of Bermuda triangle stories or something of that sort. Two things hit me just as I clicked on this review- (1) Rating was 2 out of 4 stars (either not too good a story, disjointed or bad editing) and (2) It was a children's novel.
Anyways, I was already in, so read the review. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the review (well-done!) despite the feeling that the book had killed off any excitement and was a bit underwhelming. I loved this line by the way ...
“Tawny and the Lobsters Under the Bed” finds five-year-old Tawny…well, with lobsters under her bed. :tiphat:
Every other thing after that went in my eyes hit some sort of reflector and bounced right out (Kidding). Let's hope the author learns from the criticisms and comes up with something better next time out.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 05 Oct 2018, 17:14

ea_anthony wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 16:56
I jumped in here (this review), immediately I saw Bermuda, thinking maybe this was a re-imagining of Bermuda triangle stories or something of that sort. Two things hit me just as I clicked on this review- (1) Rating was 2 out of 4 stars (either not too good a story, disjointed or bad editing) and (2) It was a children's novel.
Anyways, I was already in, so read the review. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the review (well-done!) despite the feeling that the book had killed off any excitement and was a bit underwhelming. I loved this line by the way ...
“Tawny and the Lobsters Under the Bed” finds five-year-old Tawny…well, with lobsters under her bed. :tiphat:
Every other thing after that went in my eyes hit some sort of reflector and bounced right out (Kidding). Let's hope the author learns from the criticisms and comes up with something better next time out.
I'm glad you stopped by and shared your thoughts. I too hope this author will keep working on this book. It has potential.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by jcoad » 05 Oct 2018, 22:43

Bummer. Sounds like a good idea gone wrong. The pictures are the best part of this type of book so need to get those right. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Oct 2018, 01:04

stacie k wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 16:40
As you mentioned, there are several issues with this children's book. It is concerning that the target audience could easily be frightened by one of the storylines, and it's a shame that the illustrations aren't captivating. Thank you for your honest assessment of this book.
I appreciate you stopping in and sharing your thoughts.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Oct 2018, 01:06

jcoad wrote: ↑
05 Oct 2018, 22:43
Bummer. Sounds like a good idea gone wrong. The pictures are the best part of this type of book so need to get those right. Thanks for the review!
So true. The illustrations are really important. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 06 Oct 2018, 02:36

I often find myself gravitating to the 2-star rating when I feel a book has good potential but has lost something in the execution. As the guidelines say, 2 is "kind of ambiguous". From the names, I was a little confused about whether this was about anthropomorphic animals like Doug the slug or Somby the snail, but there seemed to be human children too. Maybe that is also a mix? I hope that the book can be edited to live up to its potential better. Thanks for an interesting review.

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