Book Spotlight 4/19

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“Every Walrus Can Fly” by Brian Philips

Brian Phillips retreads a common story in his latest illustrated book for children, “Every Walrus Can Fly”, in which we learn that if you put in a lot of effort in, you can achieve your dreams. It’s a theme that’s been presented a thousand times before. While the rhyme scheme of the writing is entertaining for the target audience, the visuals are slightly unsettling.

The illustrations are produced by The Basement, an award-winning digital design studio. It is a shame then that the illustrations have the unfortunate look of early Dr. Seuss computer-generated-images without Theodor Geisel’s charm. The proportions to Philips’ characters are screwy, the teeth appear to be glued into the mouths of the animal characters and many of the facial expressions seem more like something one would find used as reaction images on various social media websites than in a book for little kids. This is not to say these images may not be appealing to the target demographic, but rather that a more traditional illustrated approach may have waylaid such concerns.

The content of the story is something any reader of young children’s literature has seen before, though some of the ideas are a bit new. The idea of the protagonist making a tower out of his loose change in an attempt to fly does not come across as derivative, even if it does have a hint of Yertle the Turtle about it. That being said, the lines that occur while he is atop this tower of change (“He realized his flippers would never be wings/and jumping from here would complicate things”) may come across as a bit dark even if readers of the intended age might not pick up on that.

Aside from a lesson we’ve heard a million times before and some disconcerting visuals, there is nothing more to “Every Walrus Can Fly” than a cute rhyme scheme.


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“The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women” by Gail McMeekin

Gail McMeekin’s latest work provides solid self-affirming advice to individuals, regardless of gender boundaries. The secrets we are told within “The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women” are nothing astonishing and they are certainly not things you could not find in other self-help books but what McMeekin does to differentiate herself from the others is provide her advice without coming across as preachy or all-knowing. It is that alone that makes this book worth a read. It treats you like a reader rather than someone in desperate need of assistance or some dreg of society in need of salvation.

McMeekin has a gift for a narrative voice that is conversational and at the same time professional, making her come across as some sort of hybrid between a friend from work and a friend you can enjoy spending time with. She spells out her legitimacy and then goes on to provide help, rather than flaunting her successes like someone running a pyramid scheme, a tactic that often occurs in these sorts of books.

The book’s advice is very simple and can often be boiled down into “appreciate the little things” with a healthy dose of asking you to realize that those little things are what can inspire greatness. Each chapter, which McMeekin titles as “Secrets,” are filled with anecdotes from both her life and the lives of other women who have successfully captured their creativity and put it out for the world to consume.

“The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women” may target the female demographic, but everything presented in the book can be applied to males as well. The stories of success and the advice on how to be more creative work for either gender. The only way a reader could think that this book only target women would be to only read the title or pay far too close attention to the anecdotes McMeekin presents.

If you haven’t already read self-help books and are in need of one to read, “The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women” may be just perfect for you.

However, if you’ve already read your fair share of advice books on creativity, there is nothing presented in this work that you cannot find elsewhere with a different coat of paint on it.

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