Reviewed by Cindi Smith-Walters
This Freestyle book is one of a series focusing on the environment. This edition focuses on promoting health and preventing disease, spotlighting the importance of wise personal choices and healthy lifestyles as well as the importance of controlling the spread of disease. The book also highlights how many health issues and problems have solutions. Woven throughout the narrative is the idea of personal responsibility.
As with other volumes in this series the book is well written and contains suggestions to the reader for carrying out personal research, finding out more, and asks ‘"What would you do?" about particular problems and issues. Readers consistently find a "Word Bank" at the bottom of right hand pages that displays and quickly defines words that are newly introduced. At first glance, this appears to be a boon to a struggling reader but might also be a problem because new vocabulary is rapidly introduced within the text and the short definitions provided are sometimes sketchy.
Raintree lists the book as a Level S, which translates to approximately fifth grade, at which time a reader should be fluent. Teachers, particularly those teaching health or social studies, will find this book a good resource; reading selections as appropriate to reinforce content and/or engage students rather than using it as a stand–alone. A more conventional use might be as a ‘student choice’ reader for a classroom library, or extended reading for those students interested in the topic. Case studies dealing with mental health issues, the connection between poverty and poor health, and the effect of war and conflict on personal health will be of interest to a wide variety of students. Of particular interest is how educating women and girls regarding health issues and diet serves to improve over all health of citizens in both developed and third world countries.
In addition to case studies "What would YOU do?" boxes pose questions and ask readers to think critically about situations posed and mull over possible solutions. The last few pages of text are entitled, "Looking to the Future" and spotlights how actions have consequences, again reinforcing the idea of person responsibility. The end of the book contains a number of benefits for both students and educators.
Students who enjoy facts and figures might like the "Fact File" devoted to tables that highlight infant mortality and life expectancy in a number of countries as well as a list of viral and bacterial infections for which there are vaccines available. Teachers will appreciate the glossary of terms as well as listings of additional books, suggested websites of interest, movies and documentary films on the subject, and a list of suggested topics for further research.
Review posted on 9/6/2012