4 out of 4 stars
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Toni the Superhero is a simple book for young readers. R.D. Base provides beginning readers with basic vocabulary words describing activities that the main character, Toni, likes to do. To me, this book is more about language acquisition than it is about telling a story. I say this because there is not a narrative to follow, there are just short sentences with illustrations. It is as basic as basic gets, but in an imaginative and creative way.
Each page has 1 sentence that explains what Toni likes to do. The sentences are simple in structure, with one clause consisting of a subject (Toni) and predicate (jump, dance, sweep, help, sleep, eat, sing, etc.). Therefore, this book is great for toddlers just learning how to read. This book would also be beneficial for young English Language Learners who are acquiring the basic structure of English sentences. It works well for little ones who are learning English as a second language, and would also work well in an elementary school special needs classroom.
The illustrations are wonderfully vibrant and unique. Each page illustrates the sentence so that children can have a visual representation of what they are reading. In my opinion, books for children that have such little written content have a large responsibility to make visually appealing illustrations in order to keep the reader's interest. Toni the Superhero does a great job with this. Even as an adult I found the elementary illustrations amusing.
One other thing that I'd like to mention is that the main character is an African American boy. With so many children's books centering on white main characters, it is important for authors to acknowledge that not every person in American society is white. R.D. Base represents inclusiveness with Toni and his friends of different races, and thus teaches young readers the concept of inclusiveness as well.
Furthermore, the idea of having a male main character be a superhero for accomplishing common daily tasks such as sweeping and dusting also challenges traditional gender norms in the household. To me, this book is thoughtful and meticulous with the message it is conveying to young readers. I really have nothing negative to say about this book. It is imaginative, colorful, and easy to understand for little ones just learning how to construct sentences. The author also focuses on positive words, such as “help,” which is a plus. For these reasons, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Toni the Superhero
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