Books have a magical quality about them, they take you on adventures to far off places, they encourage you to do use your imagination and foster a love of learning and education. Each book is special in its own manner.
Every holiday season, I ensure that I pick two books each for my nephews and niece, along with my own boys. I try to find a book that will capture their interest and spark a flame. Two new titles from Raincoast Books will make a perfect gift under the tree this year, Ara the Star Engineer and Mary Poppins, as they inspire, excite and encourage.
Ara the Star Engineer is a great gift for young girls who want to explore the world of technology or perhaps a parent who wants to encourage their child to think big!
Ara is a young girl who loves BIG numbers. She wants to count all the stars in the sky… but how? This is an upbeat adventure of Ara and her sidekick droid, DeeDee (“Beep!”). They use smarts and grit to solve a BIG problem and discover an amazing algorithm. A quest that takes them through a whirlwind of intriguing locations at Innovation Plex – Data Centre, Ideas Lab, Coding Pods, and X-Space. Along the way, they encounter real-life women tech trailblazers of diverse backgrounds, including a Tenacious Troubleshooter, an Intrepid Innovator, a Code Commander, and a Prolific Problem Solver. They tinker-and-tailor, build-and-fail, launch-and-iterate, and in the end discover an amazing algorithm of success – coding, courage, creativity and collaboration.
This is an incredible, must read book for all young girls. It breaks my heart just a little on how this book was developed – she was inspired to write this book when her daughter stated that ‘engineers are boys’. Too often young girls are told either verbally or through visuals and media that they are not meant to participate in STEM or that this is a male dominated field. That flame is extinguished before it is even given a chance to spark. Girls should be encouraged to participate in STEM activities, books and classes. This book follows Ara, a young and inquisitive young girl, as she tours the Innovation Plex Data Centre in order to solve her own tech problem of counting the stars. She meets with four incredible women who show her how to solve her problem and these women help to inspire young girls who have an interest in those fields. It is so important to show young girls that other women have and are succeeding in this field and that they should always aim for the stars. No challenge is too big for any young girl (or child) when they put their mind to it. This is a definite must have book item for all young children and to be read over and over again.
About the Author
Komal Singh is a techie by day and a storyteller mom by night , one who loves coding and cupcakes, data crunching and day dreaming, pottery making and program planning. She was inspired to write this book when a hypothesis put forth by her four year old daughter stunned her: ‘Engineers are Boys’.
Singh is 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.
Komal grew up in India and studied Computer Science at Delhi University and later moved to Canada to complete her Masters’ degree in C.S from Simon Fraser University. She has worked as a software engineer with tech consulting firms and is currently an Engineering Program Manager at Google. Komal lives in Waterloo, Canada, with her husband and two kids.
Mary Poppins, the illustrated gift edition, is a full-color illustrated edition of the classic novel about the magical nanny who has delighted children and adults the world over for many years.
Experience the adventures of the magical nanny who inspired the classic film, stage show, and young imaginations around the world in a whole new way. This illustrated gift edition features silver foil on the cover and beautiful artwork by Julia Sarda that re-imagines Mary’s London in rich, full color. Ideal for the lifelong Mary Poppins fan or serious collector, this edition also makes for a lovely family read-aloud book.
I loved Mary Poppins as a child, it was by far one of my favourite movies of all time. She was such a special person and sparked your imagination. I am sure the minute you hear her name, you are transported to your childhood and can sing all of the songs all over again. I could not wait to get my hands on this book. It is such a treasure from its magical cover (honestly I kept running my hands all over it, it is so beautifully done) to each and every page – it can be both a collectors item and a soon to be cherished book for a child. I almost didn’t want to share it with my own kids, it felt so special!
I loved reading the stories out loud to my son, it was easy to follow along and even easier to make silly voices to keep him entertained. There was an excellent balance of images throughout the book to keep your child entertained visually (but the stories are so vivid, you could almost get away with none). This is honestly a truly special book that will make adults and children alike happy.
About the Author
P. L. Travers (1899-1996) was a drama critic, travel essayist, reviewer, lecturer, and the creator of Mary Poppins. Ms. Travers wrote several other books for adults and children, but it is for the character of Mary Poppins that she is best remembered.
About the Illustrator
Julia Sarda has illustrated everything from classic children’s books to concept art for merchandise and video games. She lives in Barcelona.
What do you look for in a book as a gift for a young child?
Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.