Kell Andrews (Author), Lissy Marlin (Illustrator)
Sterling Children's Books
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookPeople | IndieBound
I've started and restarted this review a dozen or so times. Not because reviewing Mira Forecasts the Future is difficult, and not because my daughter was "negotiating" about not wanting to nap the entire time I was writing it (alright, maybe that did happen...), but because I was startled and disappointed to read another review that claimed it was just a "marginal choice" a couple of weeks ago when I decided to purchase it. Why was it a "marginal choice" according to that review? Because the visuals were "uneven": the illustrations show people in the bright and colorful garb of the 1920's flapper era, despite references to SPF 100, a surfing contest and a female lifeguard named Taylor in the text.
How about we focus on what this book did right? Because it did SO. MUCH. RIGHT.
It is attention grabbing for the three to eight year old set, with a fortune teller, a seaside town with a carnival boardwalk, bright, colorful windsocks and pinwheels (which, I promise, are right up there with bubbles in fascination-factor), surfers and lifeguards and beaches.
It offers non-overbearing lessons on science - both meteorology AND scientific method (observation/measurement/experiment).
It is the story of a little girl who decides - all on her own - to use SCIENCE to make her dreams come true after RESEARCHING AT THE LIBRARY. It also never discounts magic or other belief systems.
It is the story of a little girl who has the full support of her mother, despite obviously long hours at the boardwalk's fortune telling stand.
It is the story of a little girl who dreams big and wins over an entire town's adult population.
It is a story illustrated with DIVERSE characters adorned with fun and festive attire that brings a colorful twist (and a nod to history) to the tale.
It is a fresh and unique story that has never (to my knowledge) been done. And that is a very hard task to accomplish.
Does anyone really care if "SPF" and professional surfing contests didn't really happen until the 1970s in our world (though both sunblock and surfing contests did actually exist in the 1920s and 30s)? Or if "Taylor" wasn't a popular or common name for a female (though, of note, author Taylor Caldwell was born in 1900 and was a woman)? And which is more distracting or hard to follow: a fortune teller working in a boardwalk stand wearing "stereotypically exotic garb, even when she’s off duty" or a mother who works as a fortune teller who is suddenly in normal street wear? I do feel it is important to note that when she is in the library, supporting her daughter, she is wearing "off-duty" clothes, turning her "garb" into a headband, a shawl and gold jewelry; I am fairly certain I could find a picture of a well-dressed woman of 2016 wearing a very similar outfit. Perhaps the festive, colorful, bright and non-typical flapper-esque garb used in the rest of the illustrations was purposefully included to help downplay the "stereotypically exotic garb" of Madame Mirabella?
While some people might agree with the other review, I can say I wholeheartedly disagree. I hope you'll give Mira Forecasts the Future a chance, and I hope that you love it as much as our family has. Scarves off to Kell Andrews and Lissy Marlin on this debut - can't wait for your next one.
AND, to show how much we love this book (in honor of my 50th post on Pickle Corn Jam), I'd love to give away a copy to one lucky reader. Simply leave me a comment below by next Friday, June 17, 2016, to be entered.
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