Monday, January 7, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Delia’s Dull Day: An Incredibly Boring Story, by Andy Myer, 30 pages. 

What experiences and possibilities might each of us see if we were truly paying attention?

Delia complains that her days are dull because nothing ever happens. She fails to look up or around her, thus missing a profusion of amazing things happening during her day.

As she eats breakfast, two huge elephants march by her table … but Delia doesn’t notice them because she doesn’t look up from her cereal.

As she walks to school, looking at a smartphone, a line of large, colourful hot air balloons sails by in the sky … but Delia doesn’t notice them.

Neither does she notice the myriad of beautiful butterflies flying out of her tuba in music class, the gorilla behind her in the cafeteria line, the fierce pirate sitting behind her, the huge submarine that rises to the surface as she leaves the pool at swim class, the little green aliens around her as she is “busy” watching television at home, or any of the other awesome things which appear around her.

The lesson of this story is, of course, that life isn’t at all boring if you pay attention to all the exciting things and adventures that are in the world around us - even if they don’t include aliens, elephants and submarines. A tiny butterfly in itself is truly marvelous and wonderful.

Children will quickly perceive that it’s the artwork in this imaginative book which actually tells the story – as Delia moans that nothing ever happens, the entertaining illustrations tell us otherwise.  

Parents who have heard the refrain “I’m bored!” will appreciate this witty story as much as young readers and listeners.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, 30 pages.

Beatrice Bottomwell never made mistakes.

She never forgot to make her bed, feed her pet hamster, do her homework or make her lunch (always using exactly the same amount of peanut butter and jelly).  She never forgot to use her manners. Her socks always matched, and she never fell off her bicycle.

Not only was Beatrice mistake-free, but she had also won the local talent show three years in a row with her perfect juggling.

In fact, Beatrice was known for her record of perfection. She was called “the Girl Who Never Made Mistakes”.

One day, something unusual happened to Beatrice. She nearly dropped an egg during cooking class. For the rest of the day, Beatrice worried about her almost-mistake. She didn’t want to join her friends while they had fun skating on the frozen pond – in case she fell. She was too worried to join her friends in anything. Later, she couldn’t eat her dinner.

Worse was to come. That evening at the yearly talent show, Beatrice made a mistake – a big mistake - one which caused her water balloon to explode during her juggling act.

As she stood with water dripping down her face, Beatrice didn’t know to react – and neither did the surprised audience. For a few seconds no one moved. Then Beatrice started to giggle. The audience started to giggle. The giggles turned to roars of laughter, and soon everyone was laughing so hard that they could hardly stop.

That night, Beatrice slept better than ever. The next day, she wasn’t afraid to go skating with her friends. She didn’t worry when she made a small mess while making her lunch, and she even wore mismatching socks.

Best of all, Beatrice had fun!

Perfectionists and non-perfectionists, young and older, will enjoy this clever tale which tells us that we can laugh, enjoy life and sometimes, make mistakes.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 9 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on January 10, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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