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It's the windy season once again and the forces of the wind may just be the
enticement a youngster needs to wonder - just what is the wind? "I Face the
Wind", by Vicki Cobb, is the perfect science book for your inquisitive
child.  It begins with the bold words: "Ever face a strong wind?" The text
reads simply and straightforward.  Ms. Cobb follows with examples of what
could happen to you if you faced in the direction of a strong wind. "Your
hair blows away from your face. You could lose your hat....You may even have
to walk at a slant."  Ms. Cobb begins to place the framework for what the
wind really is.  She presents the fact that even though you can't see wind,
you can feel its force.  Then, she supports this concept by naming objects
affected by the wind.  She strategically places words around and around and
writes the words, "It makes dust swirl in a circle." There are many bright
orange, blue and yellow flags waving and her example of flags blowing in the
wind is a great example of the power of the wind.  But she doesn't stop
there.
She invites the readers to discover on their own by going outside and
observing.  After stating what wind does around us, and inviting the reader
to do a few simple experiments on their own, Ms. Cobb begins the next task
of helping the reader understand what wind is made of.  Her experiments are
easy to do with items that everyone has lying around the house, such as a
hanger and a pencil, zip-lock bags and a large plastic grocery bag. For this
last item, she invites the reader to go outside with this bag and "catch"
some air into the bag. After twisting it closed, the reader will discover
that there is air trapped inside the bag.
The illustrations, by Julie Gorton, are a wonderful companion to the words.
Both text and pictures support each other, but there aren't too many of
either on each page. This makes the reading easier, the concepts quicker to
grasp and the experiments inviting.
This is one of the best science picture books I've come across with a layout
of the book inviting youngsters to read it.  The preface at the beginning of
the book addresses the simple items needed and the way to read and enjoy the
book.  Ms. Cobb recommends that the reader and child read the book slowly
and enjoy the activities suggested. I knew I recognized the author's name
when I first read this outstanding book. Her first book, many years ago,
excited me into experimenting in the kitchen with "Science Experiments You
Can Eat".  This new book about the wind could be just the ingredient that
will spark the love of science, discovery and invention in your child.  This
book is a wonderful experience for parents and children to enjoy together.

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Now let's go out of the wind and into a fantasy book that once the reader
beings, he won't want to put down! "The Conch Bearer", by Chitra Banerjee
Divakaruni, is a most exciting, exotic and extraordinary look inside India.
But there's much more to the story than a taste of life in a completely
different culture. The story will whisk the reader to thrilling adventures
throughout this faraway land and even to the high Himalayas.
Twelve year old Anand lives with his mother and sister and is struggling in
the poor slums of Calcutta trying to bring food home when he encounters an
old man. His life is drastically changed when he discovers that this man is
much more than what one might observe.  For the man has enchanting powers
and he has recruited Anand to help him take a magical conch back to the
mountains where it belongs.  Along the way, Anand meets a young street
urchin who joins in the journey.  She becomes a key component as Anand,
along the way, must deliver this prized property without the help of the old
man. This story has an element of evil that Anand must contend with all
along the way, as well as some unusual creatures. At some points, the reader
isn't sure if Anand is going to make it to the mountains or not because of
the difficult obstacles he has to overcome. The exotic overtones are
sprinkled throughout with the flavorful food, spices and unusual settings
that are unique to India.
There is a recurring theme of honesty, compassion and loyalty making the
protagonist likable and trustworthy.  This is an intriguing look into
another society and culture while taking the reader on an adventure they are
not likely to forget.  This is a great book for ages 9 and older.