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Ebb and Flow–some good in everyone

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Ebb and Flow

by Heather T. Smith

Ebb and FlowEbb and Flow is a sad, emotionally laden story of sins, redemption and forgiveness. It is written in free verse and as such leads to tremendous teaching opportunities. Because rhyming poetry is so easily identifiable for children, it can be difficult to explain the difference between poetry and prose when the poetry does not rhyme. Ebb and Flow is a whole book of examples to demonstrate the concept. It also is an excellent exemplar of poetry as a form of storytelling. The poems in this book demonstrate the effectiveness of well-chosen words. All of these ideas are appropriate to the intended age range of eight to twelve years (grades four to seven).

As an adult I was moved by the book which lets Jett tell his own story of a father in jail, a move to a new town intended to provide a fresh start, and a disastrous year in the new surroundings. There is hope for Jett in a summer visit to a think-outside-the-box grandmother who sees the good in Jett and provides opportunities for him to work through his issues. Although  the problems addressed in the book are a reality to be endured for some children, in general they are above the maturity level of most eight year olds: child abuse, spousal abuse, incarceration, homelessness, and the maturity level of some special needs adults. While it could be helpful to some children, it could be frightening to others. Some parents would also object to the expletives found in two places in the book; personally I didn’t understand their inclusion as they did not add to the book in any way.

Thus I recommend the book with the reservation of parental guidance needed for language and content. There is little that is graphic but the overtone is emotionally charged despite the hopeful ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Poetry

Notes: 1. warnings for domestic violence and swearing

  2. Age Range: 8-12 years

  3. Grade Level: 4-7

Publication:  April 3, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

I just wanted to say

I’m glad you are here.

And all of a sudden, 

I was more than just air.

 

So,

you think,

when I grow up,

I can be someone?

Grandma’s face went soft.

You ARE someone, dear.

You’re my Jett.

 

She gave me the room in the attic,

the one with the view of the sea.

Of all the rooms

in all the world

it was the awesomest room

of them all.

It made me feel cozy

and glow-y

and warm,

like a light had turned on

in my heart.


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