Smarter than the SCOOPERS

smarter-than-scoopers-julia-cookSmarter than the SCOOPERS

Julia Cook, Author

Allison Valentine, Illustrator

National Center for Youth Issues, Fiction,  2012

Suitable for Ages: 4 and up

Themes:  Abduction, Child Safety, Predators, Strangers

Opening“I was outside playing with Zippy, my new baby rabbit, when I heard my mama calling me.  I carefully set Zippy down into a cardboard box and ran inside the house to see what she wanted.”

Synopsis:  A mother talks with her daughter about how people come in all shapes and sizes.  There are people who are safe people you can go to if ever need help, like a teacher, a store clerk, a police officer, or a mother with children.   But, she also explains there are people who aren’t so nice and are Scoopers who “scoop you up, take you away from your family, and try to hurt you.”   She teaches her daughter some safety rules to help keep her safe.  The little girl is tested when a neighbor comes to school to pick her up.  She goes back inside the school and asks to see her “call list” and phones someone on the list to make sure it’s okay.  At the grocery store a friendly stranger tries to talk with her and she walks away.  She learns that a “scooper” may pretend to need help, or lure her to pet a dog.  The girl thinks about everything her mother says and goes to play with her baby rabbit she captures and puts in a box.  She comes to a very important realization and makes a big decision.

Why I like this book:  Julia Cook’s book is an excellent tool to help parents, teachers, and counselors prepare children with the skills they need to be safe from child abductors.  Cook uses the word SCOOP as an acronym to help children remember five personal safety rules.  For many children, this could be a frightening topic, but Cook has done an excellent job of approaching this subject in a non-threatening manner.   I love the ending when the girl realizes that she is a scooper after she tricks a rabbit away from its mama.   What a great way to get a point across.    Allison Valentine’s pastel illustrations are colorful and expressive.

Resources:  With spring and summer around the corner, this is a good time to discuss personal safety with children.  The book alone is a resource for discussion with children.  It has back matter and safety rules for both children and parents.  This is a book for home and the classroom.  Visit Julia Cook’s website,  to view the many books she has written.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Note:  On Monday, March 25,  I will be reviewing Sharon Draper’s new YA book Panic, about a teenage abduction.  This is very important read for teens.  There will be a book give away.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

42 thoughts on “Smarter than the SCOOPERS

  1. I’m glad to see a non-threatening book on such an important topic. It’s so hard to discuss with kids without scaring them. I don’t think we have any other books on our list about “scooping” so I’m VERY gad to be adding this one! Thanks, Pat.

  2. Sounds like a book we should introduce to my grandgirls. Thank you for sharing, Patricia. It is difficult to address the situation without scaring them. The movie “Tangled” scares my 4 yr old grand because Rapunzel is kidnapped.

  3. This looks like a good way to handle this difficult topic. We’ve started this kind of conversation with our 4 and 6 year-old, but have refrained from the “they will hurt you part,” as my older one in particular is very sensitive. Another good way to talk about this topic is to tell children if they need help to look for people with “nametags.” Whenever we go to a museum or the zoo, we look at the uniforms that the people who work there have, so they know who to do to if they need help and are lost.

    • What a great idea Kirsten. I used to point out people to my daughter, because she was quick. And, we always had a meeting place when we went to parks, zoos etc. that could be visibly seen if we got separated. But, it is a topic that needs to be addressed — and that’s why I chose Julia’s book.

  4. So tricky, and I think each child is different with the way in which this important subject should be addressed. This look like a very thoughtful resource, Pat, approached in a creative and as non-threatening a way possible.

    • Joanna, it is approached in a nonthreatening manner. But, I know my daughter was too friendly as a child and would strike up a conversation with anyone as a pre-schooler. Wished I had a book like this then. Like most kids, the first introduction is many times a policeman visiting a classroom and talking about personal safety.

    • Genevieve, we live in a different world than when we grew up. But, Julia Cook is a master at entertaining and educating at the same time. The little girl came to her own realization that she had taken a bunny from it’s mother. And, she’s happy to release it.

  5. It’s good that this deals with the subject in a non-scary way (love the rabbit analogy). I remember in 1972 a little girl (5 years old) whom I babysat asking me to read her a book she’d brought home from kindergarten. I still remember that it basically said “If anyone tries to talk to you, go away from him because he’s bad.” I was concerned that it made children afraid of ALL people. It’s so hard to strike a balance, and to deal with the uniqueness of each child and their sensitivity level (as others have mentioned) while getting the point across.

  6. This is definitely a topic that parents HAVE to cover with children and I’m really glad to know there’s a book that handles it well. The fine line between making sure a child is safe and scaring a child is one you want to carefully navigate. I love the way the ending is described! Oops! I’m a scooper!!!

    • Craig, thanks for your excellent points. I love the ending too. You’ll like Monday’s review of “Panic” for the YA group. Like being able to review a picture book for children and one for teens on this subject.

  7. Pat…you are so right…with warmer weather coming, more kids will be outside and at risk for abduction (although it can happen in any season and sometimes from their own bedroom).
    What a fantastic story…looks very child-friendly…which is an important consideration since we don’t want to terrify kids, just raise their awareness and make them pro-active about their own safety.:) Thanks for a super review and resources.:)

    • Vivian, I am so glad you liked Julia Cook’s book. It is child-friendly. She gives them tools to use which is important. I taught my daughter the “tummy test” when she was young. If something doesn’t feel right in your tummy, you go find help.

  8. Excellent review on a very delicate, and necessary subject, handled superbly by Julia Cook. Thank you Pat. I am off to the library today, so hopefully I can find some of her books there.

  9. Thanks for introducing a book here that is on Stranger Danger but not too scary kids will be afraid of everything and everyone.. I am staggered by the lack of kids playing outside now. Everywhere I go I see no kids. They are not playing outside. and if by chance they are outside, they are in a gang. I wonder what is happening to the world. We talk of kids using their imaginations but the truth is they are playing video games or watching TV because they aren’t playing outside. so sad. 😦

      • yes, and I think it’s a shame. We had so much fun did’t we? 🙂 And how will this lack of imagination play out in their future? Will they be as innovative? or inspired? Where will these kids get their creative ideas from?

      • It’s a tough one. Parents keep their kids close. You may want to check out my YA review on the same subject for teens yesterday, “Panic.” Another excellent read. It just means we have to keep talking to kids into college.

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