Monday, January 31, 2011

Children's Book Review

Sam, the Grouchy Bear as Usual   by May Lattanzio 
I loved this Children’s Book, and I enjoyed it very much.
There are just a few suggestions I have for the author.
The title of this book, and the reason the bear has no mouth does not mean the bear is “grouchy”.  That did not make sense to me.  The bear just didn’t have a mouth.  A lot of bears’ mouths are not easily seen.  The stitching gets lost in the furry hair of the bear, so it does look like they don’t have a mouth, but that does not make them look grouchy.  Or, if the author is going on the basis that the bear is ‘grouchy’ because he is free to all children, and no one picked him, then that should be explained more clearly.
I don’t know what age group the author is specifically targeting with this book.  It confuses me somewhat because of several issues.  One, being the above, and the rest I will list.
From a kid’s standpoint, (on the PDF version, on page 8, at the very top,) the author should explain that Arianna, the older woman who made the bear, had one last thing to sew on the bear, threaded the “eye” of the “needle” to sew the bear’s heart on; not to sew red thread on the bear’s eye.  Kids do not know a sewing needle has an ‘eye’ and they might think the author threaded the bear’s eye, and not the ‘eye of the needle’.  Her intention is to sew the bear’s heart on his chest, but I can just hear kids worrying and asking, “Why is the lady being mean and threading the bear’s eye?  Why it will be red?  Will it hurt the bear?”
In “my” opinion, I think the beginning of this book hardly has enough pictures, then towards the end of the book it is filled with pictures.  Most children like the parents to read books to them.  This is what I remember when I used to read a book to my children when they were little; I see myself snuggling into bed with them to read them a bedtime story, or two, or three, or four!  All ages of children are going to listen to the parent read this book because the story IS good.  However, children LOVE pictures in books, and they are going to want more pictures throughout this book, not just a lot of them towards the end of the book as it seems to be in this book.
“I” don’t like the quality of these pictures in this book.  They are not being detailed enough.  They look almost like a ‘Watercolor’ type picture, without details.  Kids like the details of pictures a lot.  They will study the pictures, look at them, and look at them over and over again.  I believe my children would have lost interest with this book because of the lack of the pictures in the beginning of this book.  Most of the time when you read a child a book, especially in the beginning of the book, this is the most important part of the book to have pictures, as it really holds their attention.  Without pictures in the beginning of the book, I would be afraid they will lose interest right away.  I feel that is how important pictures are.  You can’t hold a child off, waiting, to ‘see’ the pictures.  Children want things NOW!  They can’t wait.  No pictures equals no interest.  With pictures ALL through the book, they can ‘see’ the story as well as ‘hear’ the story, and imagine how the story is going along.  They learn ‘imagination’ this way.  Without pictures, the imagination is gone.  You might think ‘without’ pictures they would develop an imagination more so, but I found this NOT to be true.  With the pictures, you get stopped on every one.  They study them, talk about them, ask you questions about them, ask you how the picture relates to the story, and more.  They learn this way.  You, the parent, want to finish reading the book, but can’t because the children get stuck on the pictures.  This is good because the pictures help the child enjoy the book that much more,  as well.  Again, this has been my experience.
One other thing, as well; some of the words are far too big for children to understand.  On the same page as mentioned above, the word “distress” is used.  Children are not going to know what the word ‘distressed’ means.  I, as the parent, would have to stop and explain what a lot of the words mean in the story.
I say the above opinions based upon the experience of reading to my own two children when they were little.  They both would lose interest in a book if there were not enough pictures and knew they could not understand some of the words.  They would tend to not pick certain books for me to read to them if they could not understand the ‘big’ words in the book.  Every time I would read that book, they would ask end up asking me over and over again what certain words mean, ‘if’ they even chose that book. 
Other than that, I think the storyline is excellent.  I like it a lot.  It just needs to be fine-tuned some more from a child’s standpoint.
As long as these points are addressed, I think this is a winner of a book.

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