Robin’s Song by Barbara Alfaro

If your child stutters, DON’T pass up this heartwarming tale

“Robin’s beautiful singing voice healed the scratchy places in listeners’ hearts.”

This is a touching detailed fairy tale in the tradition of Grimm or Anderson. There are levels of curses as well as needs — “The witch put a second curse on the king, a thing worse than the loss of his voice – the loss of hope.” The tale also addresses the human condition in astute and compassionate ways.

Stutterers (and parents of stutterers) will find a lot to love about this book. First, the reality of stuttering is described frankly and with insight. “In a way a stammerer interrupts himself with his stammer and then others also interrupt him.” At the same time, the value of all voices, stuttering or not, is clearly recognized: “Still, something in Robin was uncomfortable. It was as if he secretly knew, even though it may be damaged, you should never give up your own voice.”

Honestly, this is one of the most touching children’s fairy tales I’ve read in a long time. It has real potential to become a classic BUT there are a few problems holding it back right now. There are a handful of typos (nothing that interferes with comprehension – just annoying. A missing “the” where “The letter told of witch’s curse”; an extras period appearing at random in the middle of a sentence: “At the end of the song the king gave a great sigh. and handed Robin a letter”.

More damaging is the poor formatting. While it’s more than readable, there’s no page break up front so the copyright notice runs into the first paragraph. I think it’s likely that a number of readers will be put off by that blatant poor formatting and never bother to read the actual story, which would be a shame.

The biggest drawback though is the lack of illustrations. This is a story that cries out for deep richly detailed drawings. I sincerely hope the writer hooks up with an illustrator and issues a new version of this story.

Deep Space Accountant by Mjke Wood

“Standing tall on the cliff edge; a steely adventurer’s glint in his eye; calculator in hand; an alien sky, albeit with only one sun and one moon; the wind-ruffled hair – not electron wind but near enough.”

I really love the underdog wins the world concept. And it’s hard to think of a less likely hero than an unassuming yet renegade accountant.

This was a great read. There were a few places where the author flexed his vocabulary a bit too obtusely – oleaginous? Passacaglia? But overall, this was a fun read – a quick paced adventure played out in a well-defined alternate universe. The imentor was a great concept – omniscient and caring yet reserved and (mostly) unwilling to intervene. I loved the concept of “smart” clothing. It made me wonder whether someday I might actually be trading my wearable tech (currently a Fitbit) for Smartipants? (Sadly, in the universe, if that happened I’d probably spend half my time waiting for my trousers to charge….)

I look forward to reading the next book in this series.