A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the majority of Cyclone, the middle-grade debut of Doreen Cronin (the Click, Clack, Moo and Chicken Squad series) takes place in a hospital after a 13-year-old girl has a stroke moments after riding a rollercoaster. Her family learns from the doctors that she had an undiagnosed heart condition and might lose some of her verbal and motor skills when she wakes up from the coma. Complex medical terms and several medical professions are explained in a kid-friendly way through the main character's footnotes and drawings. Sensitive readers might be overwhelmed by the stressful yet relatable hospital scenes as members of the girl's family express their anger, confusion, frustration, and fear which sometimes happens through strong language including "f-bomb," "s--t" (written as "s--") "hell," and insults "stupid" and "idiot." However, this emotional story will teach kids about the powerful bonds of family and the importance of communication and empathy.
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Nora's family vacation to Coney Island to ride the world famous CYCLONE rollercoaster was supposed to be the best part of her summer. Instead, it ends in tragedy when her 13-year-old cousin, Riley, has a stroke moments after they get off the ride. After Riley is rushed to the hospital and the family learns about her undiagnosed heart condition, Nora immediately feels guilty for blackmailing Riley into riding the rollercoaster and thinks it's her fault that Riley's in a coma. As Riley slowly begins to regain her verbal and motor skills, Nora and her family start to learn how to support each other as well as Riley on her journey to recovery.
Is it any good?
Doreen Cronin's touching middle-grade novel thoughtfully handles mature subjects such as illness, guilt, and family relationships in a kid-friendly way. The amount of strong language might surprise those familiar with her fun picture books, but it adds to Nora's realistic rollercoaster of emotions as she overcomes her fear and guilt before understanding how she can help her family. Nora's footnotes and drawings make it easy for kids to understand what's happening to Riley and what stage she's at in her journey to recovery. Everyone fights with their family at some point, but Cyclone shows kids that learning how to truly listen to others is just as important as expressing your feelings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books about serious medical conditions. Why do you think they're so popular? How do Nora and her family deal with Riley's illness? How do they work together? Has your family had difficulties? How have you pulled together?
Nora didn't want to go to the hospital after Riley's operation because she was afraid to hear bad news. Have you ever been afraid like that? How did you cope with your fear?
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