First of all, I love Judith Viorst, the author of Alexander and the...No Good Very Bad Day. She has a unique way of seeing things from the child's perspective. With that said, this book has A LOT going on inside. I will try to untangle it all and tell you why I like it.
The story is about a little boy who will be singing in a talent show at school. He practices a billion times and is not at all nervous until the other kids start showing their amazing talents. He begins to shrink down in his chair and when it is his turn, he is too nervous to begin.
On the very first page, you see there is something different about this book. There are flaps that can be pulled open to show something different in some of the pictures. Flaps are always fun and interesting for the little ones. Another thing you notice, when the talent show begins, is that the prose keeps repeating itself, but adds the description of one more kid's talent on the end. Preschool and Kindergarten children will be familiar with this from circle time when they play repeating games such as "I am going hunting and I am taking a..."
But now, the story gets a bit wonky. I made that word up, I think. The boy is trying to decide whether to sing or not and he gets a bit confused. He tries to decide whether to "song his sing", so he "walks his poem", "dances his hands," etc. This part is sheer silliness with flaps to match while the boy stalls for time.
One part I do like about this story, is that the two boys booed. But it didn't matter because he sang and everyone else clapped. Kids at this age can be difficult so the booing is a realistic thing. But concentrating on those with good attitudes is more important than concentrating on those with bad attitudes.
I think this book would be a wonderful read a loud for a kindergarten or first grade classroom. The children would enjoy the repetition of the story and enjoy watching the boy as he works up to singing his song. I think the book does have a good message about sticking to something even when you are scared and even when someone might boo at you. I would not recommend this book for younger than preschool age as I don't think this age would understand the nuances of what is happening in the story. Not to mention the flaps would disappear in the blink of an eye.
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