Real Life Is No Fairy Tale


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Real Life is No Fairy Tale is a children’s book unlike any other. Tony’s story is based on research on resilience, a psychological trait that can give children a considerable advantage in overcoming adversity. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from negative experiences and move forward with a positive outlook. Although it is a key skill in making sense out of struggle, resilience is rarely taught to children. Real Life is No Fairy Tale presents a realistic portrayal of how resilience and positive thinking can drastically change the course of one’s life. Tony’s story takes place in a poor urban community, but adversity can take many shapes, forms, and colors. The story itself is written in rhythmic prose similar to that employed by hip hop artists. This dynamic can increase interest, retention and comprehension among struggling readers, and also makes the text resonate with children in a way that similar books often do not. The book’s artwork also breaks new ground. The hand-drawn images incorporate even the smallest details of urban life. Like key elements in the story, much of the imagery is based on input from young people across the country. The texturing of the images was created using high- resolution photographs of urban exteriors and interiors, including the childhood home of the author.


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    “Real Life Is No Fairy Tale” is a truly inspirational book about a boy named Tony whose life gives him many problems and privations. Tony’s response to his difficult life is summed up in his favorite saying: “I focus on the good,/ I laugh away the bad,/ and I never forget/ that it could always be worse.” So when Tony’s brothers beat him to breakfast, leaving him hungry for the day, or when his mother is too tired to notice his needs are not being met, or when a bully classmate threatens to beat him and makes his daily life even more difficult and miserable, Tony tries his best to keep his spirits up and to find a better way to solve his problems. But the true gold of “Real Life Is No Fairy Tale” comes when Tony’s friends team up to help him in his scary confrontation with Gary, the troubled bully. They come to help him because they remembered what he said and did for them: “When there’s a chance to help anybody else, I’m there first. I help them focus on the good, laugh away the bad, and never forget that it could always be worse.” “Real Life Is No Fairy Tale” is a book to hook at-risk youth, but it also makes a powerful case for those not at risk to pay attention and put some empathy to work to help others less fortunate than themselves. The versed text fits with an African American beat and the hand-drawn illustrations show all the details of Tony’s world and life described so well. “Real Life Is No Fairy Tale” makes you feel Tony’s hunger, and it makes you want to feed him and give him a good cheer.

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