Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Too Tall Alice – Barbara Worton, Dom Rodi (Illus.)

©2009 Great Little Books, LLC, Glen Rock, NJ

Recently, I have found myself stacking up the children’s books for review. That’s okay, because I like children’s books—they don’t take nearly as long to read, and I can usually get the message. Even so, I have to put on a different set of reading glasses when reading these kinds of books. First of all, I have to ask myself, how would my kid who’s the age-audience for this book respond to this book? I recently posted a review that fell short on this category because my 5-year-old loved the book when I read it to him. Then I have to consider the illustrations—do they add to, take away from, or otherwise influence the story?

With this in mind, I picked up my review copy of the up-coming Too Tall Alice. The author, Barbara Worton is an accomplished story teller. And here she plies her trade well.

Alice is eight years old and is taller than all the other eight-year-old girls at the Cherry Tree School. She isn’t as tall as a building or even as tall as her dad, but she still knows that she’s the only girl in the back row with the boys in the school picture. Alice is not the only one who notices that she is taller than the average eight-year-old girl. She wishes she was four inches shorter—then she would not be so different.

Worton tells how Alice learns to be who she is and that being Alice is a good thing no matter how tall you are.

My take is that Worton has a winner of a story here. It teaches children to accept themselves without being too preachy about it. It’s a very child friendly story that will speak to children with a variety of differences that make them stand out.

Children’s books often have the unique distinction of being works of art. This is not to say that the story isn’t a form of art in itself, but for the purpose of bringing the story to life for young readers, or read-to-me-ers, publishers have long partnered the story writers with illustrators who attempt to produce the 1000-wo

rd form of the story. The balance that must be struck is telling the story in pictures without under- or over-doing it.

In the case of Too Tall Alice, the illustrator crosses that line by detailing every word or phrase. The result is distracting to an older reader like me. It makes for a beautiful work of art, but clutters the page to the point of overwhelming the story itself.

At the bottom of this review, I’ll give my age-targeted young reader a voice to help balance out my opinion before locking in my three reading glasses. I’d give the story five and the pictures by themselves four and three-quarters, but when mixed together this beautiful book loses something somewhere.

Recommendations? If you have a young reader and the extra sixteen dollars, I’d say get this book. You won’t be disappointed because it’s beautiful and has a beautiful story, if you can find it amid the beautiful pictures.

—Benjamin Potter, February 3, 2009

P.S. Having convinced my young reader to try the book, I will admit that I was surprised at the reaction. Her first indicator was that the print was difficult to read (which has to do with the busy-ness of the illustrations). When I asked her if she liked the book she said, "It was okay." When I asked her if she would like to read it again, her simple and quick response was, "No."

Understanding this, I'll have to stick with my original rating. Still, it is a beautiful book with a good message for young readers.

1 comment:

Tea said...

What a great review! I love the title.

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