Today's post is written by a good friend, John from ElementarySpecialEducation.org. I was approached by author Sharon Fialco about doing a book review and giveaway on my site a while back. I quickly agreed, but when I started thinking about the content (celebrating the differences of others), I thought it would be great to have it reviewed by a special education teacher. Please head over to John's site and share it with your special education teachers.[youtube=http://http://youtu.be/CRBSstU_Hts]
It is my pleasure to write this Starabella book review. Based upon a real family and the experiences of their daughter in both social and academic settings, this book is wonderfully and compassionately written. Though each page features only a few sentences the words are saturated with descriptive details. The author, Sharon Fialco, does an excellent job of generating emotions from the reader. You heart feels pain when Starabella cries and likewise, your face bursts with a joyous smile when Starabella is happy.
This book series is a mirror replica of what the Fialco family experienced as they raised their first born daughter, Tara, who struggled with learning difficulties. These difficulties were later diagnosed as autism. Mrs. Fialco does not shy away from giving you her opinion in the introduction about the frustrations her family experienced in the school setting. Likewise, their struggles at public events and places are realistic circumstances and are displayed in the books by common reactions from outsiders and peers.
Artwork: Concerning the picture artwork within the book, only one word can sum it up: stellar. The cartoon characters are realistic in appearance. The color palette is bright and is appealing to children.
Audio Narration: Each book comes with a compact disk which is to be used as a read along with the book. This could easily be used in a classroom as a listening center because the narrator says “Turn the page” instead of the standard chime most audio books use. This makes following along with the story easier as a clear direction is given. Using the audio CD does make the books much longer, so if you are using this in a classroom you will want to break up the reading by only covering one chapter per day.
Music: The musical pieces are well composed and go along with what is happening in the story. In my opinion, the best song in the entire series is “A Mixture of Feelings” which can be found in the second book, New Adventures and Mixed Emotions. The music in this song goes along with moods and would be beneficial to a music teacher to use to show how music changes and the representation of the change.
In the first book of the series, Mystery Girl of Music, the main character, Starabella, is born into a loving family. Her parents love her but are puzzled by some of her behaviors. One day a family piano arrives and Starabella immediately falls in love with music. This is a good demonstration of both music as therapy and a sensory need. We all have sensory needs, whether the type of clothing you enjoy (tight fitting or loose) or noises that are calming to others bring about harsh feelings for others. This book shows that even at a young age, sensory needs are vitally important to learn and make the most of.
The second book, New Adventures and Mixed Emotions, follows Starabella as a slightly older toddler. This time Starabella attends both the circus and tumbling class. However, things don’t go ask expected at either event. This book shows the difficulties people with disabilities may have in social settings. Moreover, it shows how quick society is to judge without giving thought to the person or situation.
The series concludes with book three, Welcome to a Bright New World. This book is longer than the previous two, but fortunately, like the other two books, chapters are divided to help break up the passages. Starabella is entering kindergarten and experiences both and pros and cons of the educational environment. There is a full cast of characters in this reading, including a school bully and a helpful teacher. As a special education teacher, the best part for me in this series occurred in this book when the replacement behavior is being taught. The teacher gives the class scenarios to think about and select the proper choice. This helps students realize what behaviors are not acceptable and what proper behavior should take place instead.
I would recommend the Starabella book series for preschool, primary, and elementary schools. My assumption is that the vocabulary is on a 2nd or 3rd grade level. Likewise, I would use the material no higher than 3rd grade. Also, I would suggest using the read aloud instruction method as well as modeling when using this book in a classroom setting.
Furthermore, I would recommend this book public and school libraries, as well as for college professors to use in their elementary and special education classes as a model of how to better understand students with special needs, such as autism. It is good for other kids to learn about other students with disabilities, for the benefit of understanding that some kids are different than themselves.
In conclusion, if you’re a parent of a child with disabilities, primarily autism, purchase this book series. Your child needs to see that they are not alone in their struggles and now has someone to relate to. For more information on Starabella place visit the official site by clicking the link below.
Have you read the Starabella book series? Let’s hear your thoughts and opinions by leaving a reply in the comments section below. Also be sure to “Like” Elementaryspecialeducation.org on Facebook!
Starabella Books Giveaway
Would you like to win some Starabella books for your library or classroom? The author, Sharon Fialco, is partnering with Elementary Librarian and Elementary Special Education to offer the following prizes:
One winner will receive a grand prize of all three Starabella books and the Starabella soundtrack. Three winners will receive one Starabella book. One winner will receive the Starabella soundtrack. There are five prizes total.
Enter the giveaway using the options below. Remember that all winning entries will be verified! Contest ends on Saturday, May 11 at 11:59pm EST.