The Incredible Ordinary Hero: or, The Brave Bystander

August 16, 2018
Subheader: 

I'm not sure the author knows what "bystander" means.

Review: 

This is my first book review that was requested by the author. I might be a little more constructive with my criticism than usual, knowing the author will probably read the review.

It's got a good message to it (how to take care of minor burns). I was wondering why it said "burns" underneath the subtitle on the title page. And there's rules at the end to follow when someone gets burnt.

It's not much of a story. There's no real conflict or anything. I think it's important to teach your children how to deal with burns, but maybe it's also important to teach them fire safety in addition. But the most useful part of this book is those two pages which are about what to do (and what not to do) when someone gets burned.

The story is kind of mundane. The main character is a little girl named Emma. On her sixth birthday, she gets a dress, described as a "princess dress" although without anything explicitly princess-like in the artwork. She tells her mother that she wants to be a princess who takes care of everyone (a kind of weird thing to be-- is there a specific princess from fiction that she's emulating?) and then her mother makes her breakfast. It's kind of unclear where this story takes place, but it seems to be using British English (her mother is called "Mummy"). Her mother makes her "milk and biscuits" for breakfast, which would be kind of reasonable in America since our biscuits are just bread that you might put things like cream cheese on top of, but in the image her mother has apparently made cookies, which is a strange and not highly nutritious breakfast. But that's not really relevant.

What is relevant, however, is that the milk for this six-year-old has been heated to boiling before serving it, and then the mother goes off to make a phone call, leaving her six-year-old with a mug of boiling milk. I don't actually have a six-year-old yet, so I can't say how much more responsible they are, but I definitely wouldn't leave my four-year-old alone with boiling liquid. Her cousin Danny, of indeterminate age (possibly younger? the art in this book is inconsistent, to say the least) then comes in to visit her. He's bored by the dress, and then she grabs the kitchen towel and puts it on her neck like a cape to run around (maybe the next book in the series will be about choking hazards). Then Danny runs into the table, spilling Emma's milk and burning himself to the point of blistering. Emma somehow knows about burns (a small picture shows her reading a book with a first-aid cross on the cover, although why she would have been doing that, presumably some time before this event, is unclear, as is how much knowledge a six-year-old would be able to glean from a first aid book) and how to treat them, so she grabs him, takes him into the bathroom, and has him run his hand under cold water for ten minutes. She tells him not to scratch the blisters that are forming (man, second-degree burns from momentary exposure to hot milk-- did the mom cook it with lava or something?). Emma's mother comes "immediately," although apparently not fast enough to be the one to take him into the bathroom, as Danny gushes over her knowledge and bravery. Emma then bandages her cousin's hand (why doesn't her mother do this? I would think she would be more accurate at doing this than a six-year-old. And where are Danny's parents?) and then Danny's happy and that's the end.

Like I said, the illustrations are incredibly inconsistent. I know this is a self-published book on Amazon, but it could definitely have done with some editing. I think it's a commendable try for a beginning author, but with the exception of the two final summary pages on burns, I don't think it would really be that helpful for children. It's a good start. I could see a story being made out of this, but it kind of reminds me of a storyboard for a movie. It's not quite polished. It's better than Jim Carrey's foray into children's books ("How Roland Rolls"-- although that's not a very high bar). There are definitely books from publishing houses that are worse than this. It's kind of average.

Message: 

Anybody can help others, and this is how to deal with minor burns.

Author
Illustrator
Publication Year
  • 2018
Age Range
Age Range: 
n/a
Number of Pages
Number of Pages: 
22
Number of Words on Typical Page
Number of Words: 
100

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