Judicious editing and visual polish would significantly improve this potentially appealing alphabet-inspired reader.

N IS FOR NOAH

Children with names from A to Z star in their own short stories in this reader for young children.

In one-page narratives, author Condi (Counting on You, 2012, etc.) tells the stories of a racially and ethnically diverse group of children—mostly little girls but a few boys, too—whose names and identifying characteristic represent one letter of the alphabet: “Baker Beth,” “Exercising Emma,” “Juggling Jill,” “Vacationing Victor,” etc. Each story includes an illustration of the fictional child. (Done in colored pencil, these one-page drawings are unpolished but charming.) The repetitive format (“Dancing Debbie dances everywhere. Dancing Debbie dances in her house. Dancing Debbie dances in the bathtub,” etc.) becomes a bit wearisome when read out loud. Still, the storylines are engaging and creative: officious “Rules Renee” learns that “sometimes people break the rules because they do not know them,” and “talking Tina,” who talks in her sleep, in the bathtub, and even when she eats, learns to listen. The author might reconsider, too, a few names that require a pronunciation guide. Is “Una” in “Umbrella Una” pronounced with a long or short “u”? Children may not know that “Xia” in “X-ray Xia” can be pronounced “Zee-a” or “Sha,” and a “Yodeling Yolanda” would make more sense than the author’s choice: “Yodeling Yvonne.”

Judicious editing and visual polish would significantly improve this potentially appealing alphabet-inspired reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4808-5134-4

Page Count: 29

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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