Saturday, July 24, 2010

One Boy, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (ages 4 - 6)

One thing that fascinates me about children's books is how important it is to find the right reader before you judge a book. One of my mentors, Diane Frankenstein, always talked about how a book is half created by an author, and half created in the mind of a child. It is only through reading that a book fully takes life in the mind of the reader. One Boy, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, is a book that is brilliant in the hands of an emergent reader. But it's a book that needs a specific audience, one that works wonderfully with new readers but only adequately as a picture book for preschoolers. Let me share a bit about this fantastic book.
One Boy
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
NY: Roaring Book Press, 2008
ages 4 - 6
Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award (2009)
available on Amazon and at your local library
At first look, One Boy is a counting book with each page illustrating bright, simple pictures to count items. But Laura Vaccaro Seeger is an author and illustrator who takes simple concepts into a more intricate level. In One Boy, each page has precise die cuts which show part of the image from the next page. When you turn the page, these die cuts highlight part of the word from the previous page and incorporate the letters into new words. In the first pair, "one boy" (turn the page) is "all alone" and in the next pair, "two seals" (turn the page) are "at the sea".

My six year old was fascinated by the idea of words within words. She sat fingering the die cuts, talking to herself about the words. It's a powerful concepts for new readers to wrestle with, and Seeger has created a simple, uncluttered but fascinating book for new readers to experience.

But when I read One Boy with this same child two years ago, when she loved counting books, she wasn't fascinated by this book. To me, it shows how important it is to think of the right audience when suggesting a book. A book that might fascinate one child might leave another lukewarm. It's also an important thing to talk about with kids - it's important to be persistent trying to find a "just right" book that is interesting to them and meets them where they are on an emotional level and in terms of their reading level.

Back to One Boy, our favorite pair? "Three apes" are shown through the bars of a cage, and then (turn the page) they make a "big escape" and the cage doors are open. It's funny and illustrates such an important concept for new readers, the effect of the silent "e" and multi-syllabic words.

Do you have a new reader at home? Take a look at Laura Vaccaro Seeger's website and click "look inside" to see One Boy in action. It's a real treat.

Seeger received a Caldecott Honor Award in 2008 for First the Egg. She has a new book out, What If? that looks like a fantastic book for preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders all about friendship - but I haven't had a chance to see it yet.

The review copy came from our home library. If you make a purchase using any of these links, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

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