________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

cover Safety at Home. (Staying Safe).

Marylee Knowlton. Photography by Gregg Andersen.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4321-7 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4316-3 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Home accidents-Prevention-Juvenile literature.
Safety education-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

cover Safety at the Playground. (Staying Safe).

Marylee Knowlton. Photography by Gregg Andersen.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4323-1 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4318-7 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Playgrounds-Safety Measures-Juvenile literature.
Safety education-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

cover Safety at School. (Staying Safe).

Marylee Knowlton. Photography by Gregg Andersen.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4322-4 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4317-0 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Schools-Safety Measures-Juvenile literature.
Safety education-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

cover Safety Around Water. (Staying Safe).

Marylee Knowlton. Photography by Gregg Andersen.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4320-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4315-6 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Swimming-Safety measures-Juvenile literature.
Safety education-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

** /4

excerpt:

Every day, you have to make choices about your own safety. Whether you are at home, at school, at a playground, or around water, staying safe is something you must always think about. (From Safety Around Water.)

No Joking about Choking!

Lunch can be a great time to talk with your friends about what you did last night or to make a plan for after school. How can you talk and still finish eating before lunchtime is over? (From Safety at School.)

Talking to Strangers!

Most of the people in the park or on the playground have come there to have a good time, just like you. But you can’t be sure if you don’t know them. That’s one reason you always come with an adult.

What should you do if someone you don’t know asks you to go with him or her? (From Safety at the Playground.)

Play it Safe!

It’s fun to go out and play with your friends, but you have to stay safe when you are playing outside, too. Make sure you choose a safe place to play, and stay away from traffic in the street!.

How can you be sure you are safe when there are cars around? (From Safety at Home.)

MaryLee Knowlton is interested in children’s physical safety, and the “Staying Safe” series aims to help children develop personal responsibility for their safety, and the safety of others, through informed decision-making. Knowlton has selected the home, the playground, the school, and lakes, rivers, or swimming pools as four environments where children can be put at risk. Each setting is the focus of one book in the reviewed series. In Safety at Home, Safety at the Playground, Safety at School, and Safety Around Water, readers are presented with six contexts like the “No Joking about Choking,” “Talking to Strangers” and ‘Play it Safe” excerpts above. Each context is followed by a scenario, identified by the heading, “What’s happening?” which ends with a question like “What should you do?” Rather than the reader’s turning the page and reading what should be done, Knowlton proposes three possible actions labeled A, B, and C, asks readers to select the response that they believe is safest, and then invites them to “turn the page to find out.” What teachers and parents will find interesting is Knowlton’s decision to describe the consequences of each possible action, not simply the choice she believes is the best choice for children to make.

     One example of this is “How Deep is It?” in Safety around Water. The setting is a lake or bay, and the photograph that accompanies the text is of a girl, around 11-years-old, running along a white, wood pier built out and over water studded with water lilies and ducks. There is no other person in the scene, and one can only infer, given the pontoon aircraft and Sea-Doos in the background, that an adult is somewhere in the vicinity. Knowlton explains that you may want to jump into the water, but you don’t know how deep the water is at the end of the pier. “If it’s too shallow, you may hit bottom and hurt yourself. If it’s too deep…you could have trouble swimming back to where you can stand.” She asks, “How can you tell how deep the water is?” The facing page presents the scenario: “You are visiting your cousins at their cottage and you can’t wait to dive off the end of the dock.” The three possible actions are typed on to what appears to be a much enlarged “Post-it-Note” that is held by a smiling child. These actions are: “A. Take a running dive off the end of the dock”; “B. Look into the water and see if it is deep before you dive”; and “C. Ask an adult in charge if it’s safe to dive in from the dock and if he or she will watch you.” A photograph of a girl who expresses uncertainty about which is the right course of action is placed next to the question, “Which is the best choice?” The following two pages show the most likely results of choosing A or B or C. A and B, for example, reiterate the views expressed by Knowlton in her introduction to the setting. C is identified as the best choice since the adult can tell you if it’s safe to dive and swim and is there to watch. This scenario ends with a section labeled “What have you learned?” In this case, “Never dive into water until an adult tells you it is safe for swimming and agrees to stay and watch while you swim. What you can’t see in the water can hurt you.”

     Regardless of the book, each scenario is presented in this way. “C” is always the “best choice,” and the photographs of each setting are realistic and equivalent to the activities in which children would find themselves at home, school, the playground, or around water.

     My hesitation to unconditionally recommend the “Staying Safe” series is owing to the anxiety or fear of people and places that certain scenarios may encourage, and the too frequent need to consult a “grownup in charge” rather than to apply the responsible and safe conduct taught by family members. Furthermore, with the exception of the occasional student assignment that requires library research on safety, I wonder why children would wish to read these books. Safety at Home, Safety at the Playground, Safety at School, and Safety Around Water are certainly of value to early years teachers who care about the physical well-being of their students, want to develop responsible decision-making and to promote safe choices, and would like an example of how this can be done.

Recommended with reservations.

Barbara McMillan is a teacher educator and a professor of science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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