Level Up/Paso de nivel

By Gwendolyn Zepeda • Illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla
Translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
Piñata Books • 2012 • 32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55885-747-6
Hardcover ($16.95)
Ages 5-8

Do you know a young couch potato? How about a junk food addict? Is there a video game or computer aficionado in your life?  If so, this book is a must read! Through split page English and Spanish text and bright illustrations, it tells the story of a boy who lives an isolated life, fixated on video games. He rejects every invitation to play basketball or go skateboarding. Nothing or nobody can coax him out of his room, where alone, he wolfs down chips, cookies, and sodas.

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With no physical activity, a snack food diet and little human interaction, this boy is clearly headed for trouble.  Fortunately, a spell of interrupted television service forces him to break the habits of his unhealthy lifestyle. With the words NO SIGNAL glaring at him from the screen, the boy is forced to go out to play.  Before long, he is hooked on conquering the next skateboard feat and scoring on the basketball court.  When he gets hungry, his buddies offer him some of the fresh fruit and nuts that their moms have packed for them.  With peer role models in place, eventually the boy too reaches for healthy snacks. Healthier eating provides him the energy to tackle a new sport, dirt biking.  It turns out that action games are much more fun when you can perform them yourself!

—Reviewed by Gisela Norat, Ph.D., Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia