Monday, December 14, 2015

Webster's Friend - a bookwrap

The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. Kids who are old enough to swipe a screen can have access to the world.
But that access can also pose hazards. For example, an 8-year-old might do an online search for "Lego." But with just one missed keystroke, the word "Legs" is entered instead, and the child may be directed to a slew of websites with a focus on legs — some of which may contain pornographic material.  I personally had that happen when I taught.  The class was studying the different parts of the body in the health programme and I assigned the "skin" (epidermis) to one of the students.  When she typed in the word skin a whole bunch of pornographic material appeared and probably scarred her for life. By typing in epidermis she got the correct websites and research material that she needed to complete her project.  Needless to say I was mortified.
That's why it's important to be aware of what your kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online.
As with any safety issue, it's wise to talk with your kids about your concerns, take advantage of resources to protect them, and keep a close eye on their activities.


Authored and illustrated by Hannah Whaley

Unwrapping some her adorable illustrations...

Unwrapping my take...

Webster, an adorable little spider, loves to use his imagination, dress up to become his favourite characters (such as a pirate and a robot), and loves being on the internet.  He decides to play a game with a new virtual friend he meets there.  

First he tells his friend that his name is Max which is not true at all.  Then he starts spinning stories that he is a teenager (no... not true), that he never cleans his room but watches tv all the time instead (uh uh...fib), that he is a champion gardener (mmm...little white lie there), and that he owns his own horse (... getting out of control with fabrications little guy). On and on it goes his stories getting more preposterous all the time. 

His friend, who says his name is Bruno, replies with falsities as well.  They boast and tell whoppers, one bigger than the last, until finally Webster says:

"I made friends with an alien!
We are having lunch at noon."

Bruno gets uber excited and wants to meet up with Webster and join in the luncheon date because meeting an alien would be so cool and he's never had the pleasure of such an awesome encounter.  Will Webster give out his information as to where the luncheon will take place?  Will he want to meet up with Bruno even though he is a stranger he just met on the internet?  Will everything turn out well and Webster finally learn safety lessons about going online and about learning that telling untruths can not only compromise his character but his safety too?  What would you suggest to Webster that he should do?  Is he being smart?

This wonderful little book is written in rhyme and is perfect to share this time of the year as Christmas is just around the corner and kids will be home for the holidays constantly surfing the net with the whole world literally at their fingertips.  This book can be a wonderful conversation starter about how to be safe while using the computer or iPad or iPhone.  Teach your child the proper etiquette so both you and he/she can relax and enjoy fun and safe virtual adventures.

About the author...

Award winning author and illustrator Hannah Whaley is based in Scotland, and has always worked to combine education, technology and research. She graduated with a degree in Applied Computing in 2004 and was named UK Learning Technologist of the Year in 2007, before moving into University library management in 2009. Her books help introduce children to technology from an early age through reading and stories, and her debut children's picture book "Webster's Email" was winner of Writing Magazine's SP Book of the Year 2015.

Born Digital Books is a new independent publisher of children's picture books and apps that feature an underlying theme of technology. Their vision is to introduce young children to the technology they see around them everyday through stories, while also promoting early conversations about appropriate use, social interactions and online safety. For more information see

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It's a wrap.
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