Tag Archives: Health

Heathy Kids by Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning, Cynthia Pon, foreword by Melinda French Gates

Healthy Kids“All children, regardless of where they live, should have the opportunity to grow up healthy and lead a productive life,” writes Melinda Gates in her foreword to this, the latest “A Global Fund for Children Book.” As she shares the wrenching statistic that over seven million children die every year before the age of 5, she quotes her father-in-law with a sobering, “these are not just numbers, these are our neighbors.” Indeed, providing every child with a fighting chance at healthy survival should be tasked to every able neighbor throughout our global community.

Get inspired by the happy, hopeful, proud faces of children from all over the world: “Healthy kids grow up strong, active, and ready to go!” Being healthy means sharing a nutritious meal with your family in Vietnam, enjoying a roasted ear of corn in Mexico, or being breast-fed in Cuba. Healthy includes clean water, whether from a water fountain in Japan or a hand pump in India. Healthy means proper hygiene, enjoying an outdoor shower in Taiwan or using a countryside privvy in Sweden.

Staying healthy relies on having a safe, clean home, like a delightfully hand-painted A-frame wooden house in Suriname or a cozy fur-and-rug covered yurt in China. Regular health (shots!) and dental care (toothbrushes!) are a must, as is exercise and just good ol’ playing whether it’s rugby in Australia or sledding in Greenland. Most of all, best of all, healthy kids need families and communities to feel “safe and loved.”

Through the power of diverse photographs, the authors – Global Fund for Children founder Maya Ajmera, Global Fund VP Victoria Dunning, and Director of Global Fund for Children Books Cynthia Pon – subtly, rightfully remind us that ‘healthy’ kids do not mean ‘perfect’ kids. From the smiling Argentinian girl with Downs Syndrome on the first double-page spread, to the laughing Turkish boy with crutches on the last, all children are welcome throughout these vibrant pages.

The final few pages offer additional suggestions on how to get even healthier, no matter where you are. Plant a garden, conserve water, sing the ABC song while you scrub your hands to banish all the germs, recycle, get regular check-ups, keep your brain active by reading books, organize a neighborhood clean-up day, or donate your allowance to organizations committed to better health for kids everywhere.

“Starting with little steps can lead to big changes. So get out there and be a healthy kid!” Parents, too! We’re never too old to be healthy kids, regardless of our long-ago birthdates.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Nonfiction, Nonethnic-specific

Mimi’s Village: And How Basic Health Care Transformed It by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

When Mimi and her little sister Nakkissi go to fetch the family’s water from the stream one hot day, Mimi does something she knows she shouldn’t: she realizes that tired Nakkissi can’t walk all the way home without a drink, so she gives her “two handfuls of brownish water” from the stream – even knowing that the water must first be boiled before drinking. That evening, Nakkissi falls seriously ill with a sickness that too many village children don’t survive. Armed with a machete, hoe, and sticks to ward off any wild animals, the whole family walks in the middle of the night to the next village in search of help.

With simple, clean care at the health clinic, Nakkissi recovers quickly. Nurse Tela convinces the family to stay another night because the next day is vaccination day. Mimi watches and learns as Nurse Tela tends to pregnant women, babies, and many children more ill than Nakkissi. Inspired by what she sees, when they return home, Mimi shares her “big dream” with her father, who discusses it with the village elders … and three months later, that dream becomes a most welcome, necessary reality. What might have been a family tragedy proves to be healthy salvation for Mimi’s whole community.

Part of Canada’s Kids Can Press‘ compelling, informative, entertaining CitizenKid series – “books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens” – Mimi’s Village is “based on a blend of real stories.” Author Katie Smith Milway (who also wrote CitizenKid’s uplifting, based-on-real-life The Good Garden) definitely inspires readers with a good story … and then fortifies her audience with informative context and opportunities to take action. She shares the experiences of real-life nurse Felina Maiya of Zambia, who has thus far brought saving treatment and hygienic prevention techniques to 61 households since 2006. Milway also provides the ‘why’ of the importance of simple health care (diarrhea causes one in five deaths; malaria kills a child in sub-Saharan Africa every 45 sections), and how readers can get involved (a 7-year-old Canadian boy raised the funding to build a well in Uganda!) and new ways to create change (an African superstar performs concerts that urge his fans to use bed nets to prevent malaria).

In this season of privileged plenty for so many of us lucky readers, resources like CitizenKid titles are priceless. Invest in a few (or all!) and encourage your kiddies to go global: with the help of CitizenKid, teach them now that actions speak louder than words.

Readers: Children, Middle Grade

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, ..Middle Grade Readers, .Fiction, African, Canadian, Nonethnic-specific

Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai, photographs by Quentin Bacon

Forget pillow talk; get in the kitchen with your favorite FWBs – that’s Foods With Benefits, according to Candice Kumai, also known as the Stiletto Chef and co-host of Lifetime’s Cook Yourself Thin.

Thanks to her FWBs, Kumai’s first cookbook is all about “eating well that’s healthy, lean, and budget friendly.” Kumai, a model-turned-chef who’s determined to look “fabulous forever,” argues that “weight loss marketing traps” are expensive and mostly feature “fake food (yes, … as in made in a science lab!).” Given the rampant rates of obesity and other health problems in the U.S., she hardly needs to convince anyone that “we’re making ourselves sick (and broke!).”

So Kumai builds every meal with her favorite FWBs: “the good stuff naturally takes center stage.” She starts by shopping for whole, natural, unprocessed foods, and organic when available. Health – both yours and our planet’s – is worth the investment, she rightfully insists. And with a nod to the homemade Japanese-Polish-American meals her mother made growing up, Kumai cooks with the best ingredients available, as often as she can (enhanced by her Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts training!). She’s figured out what tastes great, and are great for her body, inside and out. And she’s got a whole book to show you how … “no ifs, ands, or butts about it.”

More than just a recipe collection, Kumai offers “7 Slimming Ways to Stretch Food and Save Calories and Cash,” her “FWB Philosophy” with a chart of her favorite FWBs a few pages later with benefits clearly spelled out, and plenty of feel-good, look-good, do-good encouragement along the way.

Her recipes indeed look so simple and delicious, that I’m thinking of breaking out a measuring cup or two (and I hate to cook, but I do love to eat .. !). Better yet, I think I’m going to hand over the whole volume to the far-more-kitchen-friendly-hubby with “try it, we’ll like it!” just in time for the next meal. How about Pear and Onion Flatbreads with Gorgonzola and Walnuts, dished up with Olive-Oil-Grilled Chicken over Quinoa-Spinach Salad? With a couple Lemon Babycakes for dessert? Mmm mmm gooood! Let’s eat!

Readers: Adult

Published: 2011

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Nonfiction, Hapa, Japanese American

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel

For decades now, Haruki Murakami has been one of my all-time favorite novelists ever; back when my grad-schooled brain was more nimble, I even read a few of his titles in their original Japanese. While this mind has considerably weakened since then, at least the muscles are getting more efficient: now that I’m really, truly, seriously training (!!), Murakami has moved from my bedside to my iPod – and indeed, he makes for a perfect running companion.

Part personal musings, part training log, part peripatetic competition, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – the title borrowed (with permission) from Raymond Carver’s short story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – tracks Murakami’s concurrent development as a novelist and as a long-distance runner. Both, according to Murakami, need talent, focus, and endurance.

Written in journal-like entries between August 2005 when he was running under cloudless skies in Kauai, and October 2006 as he was finishing the Murakami City triathlon, the too-short book is perfectly paced with one “did you know that …?’-moment after another. Murakami ran a jazz bar before he literally woke up one day – April 1, 1978 – and thought he could write a novel; three books later (including his phenomenal A Wild Sheep Chase), he decided if he wanted “to have a long life as a novelist,” he’d better quit the 60 cigarettes a day and clean up his act. So he started running.

When he’s out there, he prefers the driving beats of the Lovin’ Spoonful on an MD player, not an iPod. His resting heart rate is just 50 beats per minute, he has to run a good 35 minutes to get it up to 70, and only after he’s run as hard as he can does it approach 100. He trains at about a 6mph rate, and usually runs six days a week. His favorite shoes are Mizuno.

For the past quarter-century-plus, he’s done one marathon a year, although his first-ever was an unofficial on-his-own run from Athens to Marathon (he ran it backwards to avoid the Athens rush hour traffic) in July 1983 while he was writing a magazine article. He’s done one 100K ultramarathon, and he’s never doing another again. His running peaked in his 40s (he was in his late 50s while writing the book), and he’s since added triathlons, although he had to re-learn how to swim (he used to hyperventilate) and biking is his least favorite activity.

“I have no idea whether I can keep this cycle of inefficient activities going forever, ” he muses at book’s end. “But I’ve done it so persistently over such a long time, and without getting terribly sick of it, that I think I’ll try to keep going as long as I can. Long-distance running (more or less, for better or worse) has molded me into the person I am today, and I’m hoping it will remain a part of my life for as long as possible. I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.” If he could pick his gravestone, he’d like the final line to read, “At Least He Never Walked.”

That can definitely be a lofty, long-term aspiration for me, too! As I completed my 6th week of training with Coach Eric Orton (yes, that Coach Eric!) putting one foot in front of the other towards the Leadville 100 (100 miles before I’m 50, or die trying!), I aptly finished Murakami’s book having achieved my own unofficial baby-step goal of 6mph over exactly 60 minutes. Whoo hoooo! I have to gleefully admit, that was some grand inspiration indeed for the many, many miles ahead.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2008 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Memoir, .Nonfiction, .Translation, Japanese

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, with color by Stephanie Yue

For anyone and everyone who has or knows a middle-grader with braces (or about to get braces), this is the book of choice to share. “I’ve been telling people about what happened to my teeth ever since I knocked them out in sixth grade,” writes veteran comics-maker Raina Telgemeier in her “Author’s Note.” “The story had plenty of strange twists and turns, and I found myself saying, ‘Wait, it gets worse!’ a lot. Eventually, I realized I needed to get it all down on paper.”

So here’s the resulting colorful tale. Sixth-grade braces are bad enough – “You’re gonna be a metal-mouth!!” – Raina’s younger sister screams from the back of the  family car. But indeed, for Raina, things do get worse … far worse.

Racing a friend to her front door, Raina falls and loses her two front teeth – actually, one falls out and the other one gets so far jammed into her gumline as to all but disappear. Not to give you TOO much information … but thus begins Raina’s quest from middle school to high to finally regain her smile …

Could that dental odyssey marked by surgeries, root canals, headgear, and tiny rubber bands have happened at a worse time than smack in the midst of adolescence with changing bodies, fickle friends, first crushes, makeovers, basketball tryouts, not to mention a major earthquake? Raina certainly has more to deal with than your average teenager, but all that angst definitely gave her plenty of good material for a poignantly entertaining coming-of-age story – in full color even!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2010

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Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, .Memoir, .Nonfiction, Nonethnic-specific

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

Our Bodies OurselvesNo woman should be without this book. And if you already have the original, go out and get this latest 35th anniversary edition – it’s got some 50% new and revised material for the 21st-century you.

Review: “New and Notable Books,” AsianWeek, May 26, 2005

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2005

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Nonfiction, Nonethnic-specific