Review by Bianka Walter -- Toni the Superhero by R.D. Base

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Bianka Walter
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Review by Bianka Walter -- Toni the Superhero by R.D. Base

Post by Bianka Walter » 14 Apr 2018, 04:07

[Following is a volunteer review of "Toni the Superhero" by R.D. Base.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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As a children’s book, Toni the Superhero is a simple piece of writing adorned with colorful illustrations. With one basic sentence per page, we learn what Toni likes to do from day to day. These activities include actions that all children relish, including swimming, drawing and running. I understand that simplicity is important for children, especially to keep them engaged, but this book falls a little flat.

Toni is a superhero. Upon being introduced to Toni, we see an illustration of him flying through the sky. He has a superhero outfit kitted out with a cape and a mask, but other than that, he has no other superhero qualities. I appreciate the pull of a superhero character to children, which is why I would have liked to have seen more to back up that persona. As someone who likes to help with chores, eats healthy food, and is always happy, Toni is a fantastic model for parents to build their children’s behavior on. But I’m not sure the book is advanced enough to believe that those are superhero qualities.

There is no excitement in the narrative. Children need to be captivated by a book, and with no characters besides Toni, this becomes a little difficult. If this book is to be read to children by parents, it is up to the reader to involve their children by asking questions about the illustrations and text. The narrative is not gripping enough. I feel like this is a tool to teach children how to read with simple sentences and words, but there is not enough substance to involve them further. As a learning tool, however, I do think that with the accompanying illustrations it is a great way for children to learn how to read.

The illustrations are colorful and interesting which definitely helps to keep the interest of a child. I find that the book rests on the shoulders of the artwork rather than the narrative. But for a children’s book, that is par for the course. The illustrations tell us more about the story than the simple sentences do, and I love that most of Toni’s activities are outside. These days, with technology, children tend to spend a lot of their time watching television or playing on tablets. It’s an important message that kids can go outside to play and have just as much fun.

As a reading aide, Toni the Superhero hits the mark with its simple sentences and words. The most advanced word we come across is “terrific”, and that’s a fun word to learn to read. This is the first book in a series, and as such, I would hope that the characters and story develop a little more in the succeeding books. Unfortunately, for the first one, I was slightly indifferent. Because of this, I give this book 2 out of 4 stars. With almost all of the sentences starting with "Toni likes to..." and without any stimulating words, I would struggle to see a child being absorbed enough to enjoy it. I would, however, recommend this book to children who are learning to read at the most basic level. The illustrations help the child to guess what the word is, and ultimately learn it.

******
Toni the Superhero
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Post by Niski » 15 Apr 2018, 03:15

I’m happy that the illustrations made this book enjoyable - that’s very important for kids. Thank you for the review.

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Post by stacie k » 15 Apr 2018, 09:00

Interesting point about Toni’s activities being outdoors! As a parent, I’m interested in any hero or model that encourages healthy activities for my kids. You’ve done a great job on this review! You have valid concerns about the minimal narrative to draw in the reader. Good thing the illustrations balance it out!
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Post by BriennaiJ » 15 Apr 2018, 09:45

I'm glad that you pointed out that the narrative must be interesting for kids to enjoy it. Some people think that they can just throw any old book at a kid. Even children understand the difference between an exciting story and a boring story.

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Bianka Walter
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Post by Bianka Walter » 15 Apr 2018, 11:44

Niski wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 03:15
I’m happy that the illustrations made this book enjoyable - that’s very important for kids. Thank you for the review.
Children stay engaged with colourful images. This book certainly has that!
Thanks for commenting :)
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Bianka Walter
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Post by Bianka Walter » 15 Apr 2018, 11:46

stacie k wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 09:00
Interesting point about Toni’s activities being outdoors! As a parent, I’m interested in any hero or model that encourages healthy activities for my kids. You’ve done a great job on this review! You have valid concerns about the minimal narrative to draw in the reader. Good thing the illustrations balance it out!
Absolutely! I feel like children's books should promote a lot more outdoor activities - a healthy child is a happy child :)
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
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Bianka Walter
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Post by Bianka Walter » 15 Apr 2018, 11:48

BriennaiJ wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 09:45
I'm glad that you pointed out that the narrative must be interesting for kids to enjoy it. Some people think that they can just throw any old book at a kid. Even children understand the difference between an exciting story and a boring story.
I totally agree. With simple words like "wow" or "boom", the narrative can instantly become more exciting, and it is so easy to do! Thanks so much for your comment!
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Post by cpru68 » 15 Apr 2018, 15:48

Writing a children's book, I think, would be a tough task. There is a lot of competition out there in every genre, but with this type of book, it has to be eye-catching with illustrations, and careful attention has to be used for vocabulary and what the age audience can handle. It sounds from your review that more work needs to be done on this one. I was thinking as I read your review, that if it is the author's goal to keep this simple, then why not add some things that would engage the kids more..like make it into a pop-up book or a seek and find. If Toni is a superhero, then Toni should maybe have the reader look for something on the page that would reinforce the storyline and keep the child attentive to what is being read. If the aim is to expand reading skills and vocabulary, then the author could capitalize on that and have Toni focus on helping young ones to sound out words while he continues to be a good helper around the house. Just a thought. I enjoyed your review, and from what you said, the author can make some good changes to give this one a little more pizazz.
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Bianka Walter
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Post by Bianka Walter » 15 Apr 2018, 16:04

cpru68 wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:48
Writing a children's book, I think, would be a tough task. There is a lot of competition out there in every genre, but with this type of book, it has to be eye-catching with illustrations, and careful attention has to be used for vocabulary and what the age audience can handle. It sounds from your review that more work needs to be done on this one. I was thinking as I read your review, that if it is the author's goal to keep this simple, then why not add some things that would engage the kids more..like make it into a pop-up book or a seek and find. If Toni is a superhero, then Toni should maybe have the reader look for something on the page that would reinforce the storyline and keep the child attentive to what is being read. If the aim is to expand reading skills and vocabulary, then the author could capitalize on that and have Toni focus on helping young ones to sound out words while he continues to be a good helper around the house. Just a thought. I enjoyed your review, and from what you said, the author can make some good changes to give this one a little more pizazz.
There are so many ways to add a little oomph to a children's book. Just in your short paragraph, you have come up with some really fantastic ideas. And I feel this book could have used any of them in order to give it an edge.
Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it.
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Post by Helen_Combe » 15 Apr 2018, 17:21

Great review. I think the healthy lifestyle was the most important message in the book and the pictures were great for generating conversation with the child. I was more forgiving of the lack of content as the target age group was so low. I also think the bright colours appealed to my inner infant.
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Post by Bianka Walter » 16 Apr 2018, 07:04

Helen_Combe wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 17:21
Great review. I think the healthy lifestyle was the most important message in the book and the pictures were great for generating conversation with the child. I was more forgiving of the lack of content as the target age group was so low. I also think the bright colours appealed to my inner infant.
You are right about the age group. I was having a hard time putting it in an exact group - younger for illustrations, older for reading... I was confused :) Thanks for commenting!
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Post by kfwilson6 » 16 Apr 2018, 11:38

"The illustrations tell us more about the story than the simple sentences do, and I love that most of Toni’s activities are outside. These days, with technology, children tend to spend a lot of their time watching television or playing on tablets. It’s an important message that kids can go outside to play and have just as much fun."

I love that you included this information in your review. Such a wonderful point to make. I hope that when I have children I can encourage them to play outside and leave technology behind. I don't want to be one of those parents who entertains her children with tv, Ipad, and cellphone. Toni does appear to be a good role model.

My question about this book though is if kids are reading at such a basic level and that is why the story is so simplistic, then are they old enough to be asked to do chores and engage in the types of activities Toni is engaged in? I guess it depends on how old your child is when you teach him to read. I think by kindergarten my reading was more advanced than what seems to be offered in the text here. Just some musings....

Love your review. Nicely balanced with positive and negative comments.

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Post by PaigeA » 16 Apr 2018, 15:03

I agree that the book is not very exciting. But I think the simplicity and repetition help the child learn how to read. Seeing "Toni likes to..." over and over again will help the child learn to read better than having new material constantly on every page.

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Post by PaigeA » 16 Apr 2018, 15:04

Also, the book is short enough to where the repetition does not get too old for children. The book is over before it gets too boring. It is only around 70 words long.

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Post by Bianka Walter » 17 Apr 2018, 03:07

kfwilson6 wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 11:38

My question about this book though is if kids are reading at such a basic level and that is why the story is so simplistic, then are they old enough to be asked to do chores and engage in the types of activities Toni is engaged in? I guess it depends on how old your child is when you teach him to read. I think by kindergarten my reading was more advanced than what seems to be offered in the text here. Just some musings....
You know, I had the same questions about this book. It’s aimed at a very young audience, but tries to explain advanced thoughts like being a superhero means doing chores and helping. But I suppose all kids are different, so who’s to say? Thanks so much for the comment :)
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