4 out of 4 stars
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Bullying is one of my least favorite things in life. I grew up bullied myself, and as I learned to stand up for myself I also learned to stand up for others who are bullied. One of my favorite ways that people fight bullying is preventing it in the first place by showing kids how awful it can be, and one of the best ways to show that to children is through stories.
One of the most famous anti-bullying stories is married to Christmas: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And now, for those who don't celebrate Christmas, who want something new, or who want a more realistic slant to it, you can check out Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond by Barbara Gervais Ciancimino.
Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond tells the story of a dragonfly named Odonata. All of the other dragonflies in Maiden Grass Pond have colorful wings except Odonata, who has plain, colorless wings. This difference makes Odonata "different", so none of the other dragonflies want to play with him. Not only that, the meanest, biggest dragonfly of all - a Blue Hawker dragonfly named Drago - bullies him relentlessly. But one day it starts raining, and while rain can be annoying for people, it can be fatal for dragonflies as it makes their wings stop working! When Drago decides to show off in the rain and vanishes, only Odonata is brave enough to try to help.
Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond is a cute children's picture book with full-page cartoony images. The characters are especially cute, especially Croaker the Bullfrog who wants to eat all the dragonflies, sitting there on his lilypad with his mouth wide open.
The story itself is sweet too, and I really like that it balances its Rudolph-style roots in science. Odonata is the scientific order for dragonflies, for example, and dragonflies truly can't fly in the rain. The Blue Hawker dragonfly - Drago in the story - is the largest North American dragonfly and actually does ram into other dragonflies just like Drago does in the story. And the end of the book is a list of 20 fun facts about dragonflies, including the few things I just mentioned here.
Overall Odonata: The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond is an easy recommendation for children who like insects or science. I didn't see any grammatical errors, and the writing is smooth and easy to read. The art is mostly cute, and the characters are very expressive, but a few of the background pieces are a bit plain. The font could be a bit easier to read from a distance, but on my laptop or even on a Kindle it's easy to read up close. I'd rate the book 3.5 stars if I could, and I almost gave it 3, but once I checked it out on my Kindle instead of my laptop I feel that it deserves 4 out of 4 stars. It just feels so much sharper and alive on the Kindle, although I certainly wouldn't recommend the book to people who use their phone or a computer with a monitor smaller than 17".
Odonata The Flying Jewel of Maiden Grass Pond
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