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HOUDINI'S GIFT (The Coping Series)

Author: Jeanne Gehret, MA

Illustrator: Michael LaDuca

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Publisher: Verbal Images Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Ben loves animals. Whenever he sees them, he forgets everything else he's supposed to do ... like put his bike away. Because of his carelessness, his pet hamster Houdini runs away. Ben is anxious to get another pet, but his parents don't think he's ready. Together, they create a chart to help Ben with his memory so he can demonstrate that he is responsible enough for a pet. This is a picture book story about a boy with ADD/ADHD told in the first person .

Type of Reading: family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Reading Level: 2.4

Age of Child: Read with an 8-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: This is an easy read, and I tried to get my daughter to read it, but she wasn't interested. She listened politely and would explore the pages. She picked up on little things (like the cat on the computer and the mom's cat earrings), as well as the unfinished pieces ... like what happened to Houdini. She was quite upset at the idea the hamster got killed. When I asked about Houdini's gift to Ben, my (gifted ADHD) daughter was dumbfounded and couldn't figure out what it might be.

Adult Reader Reaction: I like the idea of the chart and how the author set up creating an organization tool in the story. I love that kids can see it in detail, particularly the agreement. Overall, though, this was a disappointment as a book for ADHD kids. The story is choppy (we don't know how Emily is related to Ben until page 27), and the plot is generic enough to apply to any child. That is a plus for the book, but will discourage many readers from using it.

Pros: Parents will find this story valuable in demonstrating what responsibility is, and how to help kids get organized and focused.

Cons: The art is Okay, but not great. It is a bit confusing/unsettling that 1 month after Houdini escaped through a hole in the wall and a mouse took up residence that it is STILL there - not realistic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The use of the chart and how it is demonstrated (particularly the family agreement) makes this a book worth reading.

If You Liked This Book, Try: MRS. GORSKI, I THINK I HAVE THE WIGGLE FIDGETS (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses)   EAGLE EYES: A CHILD'S GUIDE TO PAYING ATTENTION (The Coping Series)   SNOWBALL, COME HOME!

Educational Themes: This is a story that would be a great conversation-starter about responsibility before a child gets a pet. The job chart is also a great tool for any child, not just one with an ADHD label.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub. This is an unsolicited donation.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book series, health, illness, family

Date(s) Reviewed: May 2010

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