Reviewed by Cathy Porteus
I read this book with my 8 year old son. It took us a while to get started, as the title didn’t sound very entertaining and I had to almost insist to my son that we were going to read it. The story starts with the Mackenzie girls playing in the sea and doesn’t mention the expected main topic, e.g. doctors and careers. When the girls get home, their Auntie arrives and she tells them about being a GP.
My son enjoyed the book, he said it was good because there was lots of information. He likes factual books and I was pleased that he enjoyed reading it with me. He wanted to know if the story was real, which I thought it probably was. I then looked in the introduction, which didn’t clarify whether it was true story or not, but as the book was dedicated to the doctor Auntie, I guessed it probably was based on real life.
The “What do the grown-ups do?” series is based in the Highlands of Scotland and the book is illustrated with some lovely pictures of the local scenery. I liked the fact that the pictures were full colour photos and was interested to see the area, as it’s not somewhere we had visited ourselves.
I felt that some of the information was a little long winded but my son was genuinely interested in the details. It reminded me a little of similar children’s TV program based in a doctor’s surgery, which is presented in a similarly matter of fact manner, so I think this must be how most children like to learn about this kind of topic.
A lot of the book is written as a question and answer session between the children and their Auntie, who takes them to her surgery and shows them her equipment too. There is plenty of general information given about healthy lifestyles, e.g. how exercise helps you keep fit and healthy. This would fit it well with school topics in this area. It’s quite worthy in tone, the girls are told about how important it is to have a good job to pay for “a roof over their heads”.
In some parts, I wondered whether the book could have been edited a little to help make it easier to read. For example, some of the sentences were rather long and difficult to read out loud. It also occasionally used terms without explaining, e.g. in the first few pages, the girls are ‘doughnutting’, I’d not heard of this and could only work out what it meant from the pictures (it looks like being pulled along in an inflatable towed from a boat). In a way, it felt as if we’d started part way through a story, as the characters may well have been explained in earlier books in the series (this is book 4 of 6). My son would have liked to have known how old the girls were, so unless the books are being sold only as a set, more context could be given in the first few pages to help avoid these minor problems.
On the whole, I felt that this was a book that I would expect my children to read in school, rather than one I would read at home with them. It was quite interesting and would appeal to children who like straightforward factual books, rather than those who are more interested in fantasy novels. It’s good to have a different type of book to read with my children and I think this would be an interesting book to pick up from the library too.
For more information about the What do the grown-ups do? series visit www.kidseducationalbooks.com.
Available to buy from Amazon here.
The ‘What do the grown-ups do?’ series has been awarded the Bronze medal 2014 for BEST SERIES NON-FICTION Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.