Monday, May 2, 2011

Picture Book (Biography): Bethany Hamilton--Follow Your Dreams

Recently, I took my children to see the movie “Soul Surfer.”  All I can say is, “Wow!”  At times, it was tough to watch.  I felt so much anxiety leading up to the shark attack.  Much of the rest of the story, I was on the verge of tears, either happy or sad.  “Soul Surfer” is heart-wrenching in the best way.

It is refreshing to see a movie in which Christians and Christianity are viewed in a positive light.  Bethany Hamilton, the “soul surfer,” is a strong Christian.  She grows in her faith during this tragic experience.  Then, she uses it to help others on the mission field and through her example on a national level.  In addition, during my research, I found that she has published several devotional books for girls and has helped raise money for the Hurricane Katrina victims.  What a wonderful model for young people!

 Bearport published a short picture book biography on her life and experience in 2007 that is a worthwhile read.  I am highlighting it today for Non-Fiction Monday. 

Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams! (Defining Moments)Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams! (ages 7 and up) by Michael Sandler 
The story begins with the fateful day of the shark attack.  Then, it shifts to give some background information about her life before the attack.  Bethany was active in sports with her close-knit family, but her passion was surfing.  She began competitive surfing at age 8.  Shortly before the attack, she placed second in a national competition.  Next, the attack and immediate aftermath are depicted.  Just weeks after the incident, Bethany was working to live a normal life and to pursue her dreams!  Within two years of the life-changing experience, she had five top-three finishes in surfing competitions.  The young surfer has other aspirations as well.  She wants to help others learn to deal with pain and loss.  Most importantly, Bethany urges others to follow their dream...no matter what the obstacles. 

Throughout the text, there are inspiring quotes from Bethany Hamilton and those who know her.  The book conveys well her determined spirit and positive attitude.  I am disappointed that the spiritual dimension is left out completely.  The description of the attack is concise, leaving out gruesome details.  Photographs of Bethany, her family, and significant sites round out this biography.

Head over to Jean Little Library for the Non-Fiction Monday round-up.   

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