Buster's Undersea Counting Expedition 1 to 10 by Robert Stanek
After a while the page gets so crowded that on the last few pages the sea creatures become shadows and really small. It is very repetitive, but as an educator, I know that this is necessary for a child to learn. The text is simplistic (perfect) and the colors brilliant (except the shadow fish). Overall, I would recommend this book as a good read-to for very little ones learning to count to ten. Well done.
Mechanically, this book was well written. Punctuation in place, grammar adhered to nicely, spelling correct for the most part. Related to the spelling issue, there were a large number of instances in the text in which it appeared as if the letters had been mistakenly dropped (i.e. al owed). I’m not certain that this was the author’s error since it’s consistently a dropped letter, rather than a misspelling. Also, there was a very occasional mistake in word usage (i.e “When he wasn’t studying complex mathematics, he played with model construction sets and take long walks in the woods”).
Additionally, while I appreciate the author’s desire to keep the material simple for the reader, I was occasionally left wondering how he reached certain conclusions and would loved to have been provided a bit more information so that I could have drawn my own conclusions. For example: “He felt stifled by the education system of the time, and bored with the curriculum, but his grades, at least in the subjects that interested him, were good”. The preceding paragraphs skim over information about his grades and provides a couple of quotes related to education and educators, neither of which I interpreted as disdain as the author concluded; and nothing was provided in which to deduce Einstein felt stifled by education. Again, a bit more information would have been useful in instances such as this.
Overall, it was a decently-written attempt at a biographical work, but as detailed information on Einstein is not common knowledge, I expected to see, at the least, a reference page denoting where the author obtained his facts. This, also, would have enabled me to fill in the gaps so that I, as the reader, could obtain a clearer picture.
Also, I was surprised to see this disclaimer at the end of the Kindle E-book: “This is a work of creative nonfiction. Details included in the book may not be 100% factual and the author may have taken creative license in order to provide a more enjoyable story for the reader”. Hmm. It certainly read like a work of fact and I could not discern where the author veered from fact in order to provide a “more enjoyable story”; nonetheless, knowing this could be wholly, or in part, non-factual, actually put me off as I can no longer trust that this is an accurate depiction of Einstein or his life. It also makes me leery that the author added this disclaimer in order to avoid crediting the work of those individuals who’ve also written on the life of Einstein. What would one discover if they were to run this material through a plagiarism checker?
I would therefore recommend it only to those seeking to read it as a work of fiction, but would advise against using it as reference material in cases where research is needed (i.e. for a student).
The first page nearly had me stopping altogether, because the comparisons seemed to contradict. When I read, “The impending storm mirrored her mood,” I anticipate that the character is feeling dark, angry; emotions roiling like storm clouds across the sky; but no, the very next phrase from O’Connor states that the character feels “empowered” (?), I would almost be willing to accept that the stormy environment is powerful, lending to a feeling of empowerment; however, just prior to mentioning the storm mirroring her mood, the author states “the air sizzled with pent-up tension”. Again, this gives me a sense of anger, not empowerment. Still, fair enough, it's possible I completely misinterpreted the opening scene and became confused over the character’s feelings. Still, as the reader, I shouldn't be confused so early on.
I keep reading. The story seems to be getting better, until I hit the fourth paragraph. “Her mood improved as the wind picked up, and she playfully conquered the crashing waves.” Huh? Where did this come from, and what does the wind have to do with her sudden uplift in mood? The author was discussing her depression, her mom not wanting to wear a bathing suit, and even stated the character was feeling “empowered”, then wham! Without explanation or lead-in, a shift in wind speed picks up her mood?
One paragraph after that confusion, O’Connor chooses to use “leaped” instead of “leapt”. Acceptable, if “leaped” sounds right in the text, but the actual past tense of “leap” is “leapt” and should be used unless it doesn’t fit the text (i.e. you want to rhyme “heaped” and “leaped”). To me, saying “schools of fish leaped in the distance” didn't sound right; would have sounded better “schools of fish leapt in the distance”. Because of the awkward use, I stumbled over a sentence that should have flowed.
Keep reading, I tell myself. Give it a chance.
The scene immediately following is well done; however, the author repeatedly says “run”, but our character is in the water. Wouldn’t “swim” be the appropriate term? And how does she “crouch” in the water? If she’s that close to the shore, would a shark be able to attack her; would she not simply be able to walk out of the water, or “run” as she constantly references? Moreover, how does one tense their muscles for action in the water? Tensing up would cause one to sink, unless they could touch bottom near the shore, in which case my previous assertion remains – just walk out, no shark could swim that close anyway because it would be too shallow. Perhaps the swimmer, at 15, is tall enough to stand deeper where sharks swim. Still, as the reader, I should be able to visualize the character’s plight, yet struggled to do so.
Soon after, the author states, “Teeth clamped on her leg as she stared into dark, malevolent eyes”. How could she see “dark, malevolent eyes” if the shark is under water, blood is flooding the water around her, and certain sharks roll their eyes back in their head to protect them during an attack, thus making them appear milky white?
All of these confusing conflictions take place within the first chapter, which makes me wonder whether the author thought through what she wanted to convey, or did any research to back up her information.
As much as I wanted to keep reading and give it a chance – after all, the author’s writing isn’t poorly done – I simply couldn’t. I felt no sympathy or empathy for the main character. The writing, while far better than some books I’ve read, was cliché and the dialogue unnatural. The transitions between scenes were confusing, abrupt, oftentimes leaving me wondering how it came about.
Overall, this book has potential to be good, but I think this is one of those self-published works that would have benefited from hiring an editor; someone who could have caught the unnatural quirks and assisted in smoothing out the writing.
Recommended? Not highly, even though it isn’t completely without potential.
Who I Am...
My name is Barbara Woster. I am an author, business owner, and an educator. Writing is my passion, but I also enjoy providing insight for aspiring authors. Additionally, I review work by other writers upon request. To have your book reviewed, simply get in touch.