4 out of 4 stars
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A 2011 survey examining consumer attitudes towards purchasing children’s books reveals that close to 80% of the book purchases are not planned. Of these, 40% are pure impulse! It is almost as if R. D. Base was targeting this enormous proportion of children’s books purchasers in Toni the Superhero! To begin with, she ensures she captures the attention of her audience by a captivating cover picture of a happy Tony in his superhero outfit, with his paraphernalia. Next, she sustains her audience’s attention by fast-tracking Toni’s fun-filled ordinary activities. Being an educational children’s book, the book dwells on life lessons that reinforce positive habits in young children.
In this debut book of what R. D Base intends to be a series, the focus is on the ‘behind the scenes’ character of the superhero Toni. In a happy, casual tone coupled with colorful apt illustrations, R. D guides the reader through some of Toni’s mundane daily activities, in a way that would appeal to toddlers and young children. These activities include cleaning up the room and eating vegetables -activities notorious for eliciting tantrums when young children are accosted by them! However, it’s not just unpleasant chores that Toni tackles with his ever-present smile! The reader also encounters him happily engaging in play, reading, dancing and many other activities that are bound to make a child’s day fun.
The book is specifically designed for children learning to read, which naturally points to the 2 - 7 age group. Children in this age group are attracted by brightly colored pictures of simple objects. They also love simple texts with effective word repetition and enjoy objects and experiences that are familiar to them. Toni the superhero scores highly on each of these aspects. The illustrations by Debbie Hefke are not only colorful but also complement the story. Toni’s adventures are relayed in simple sentences, one sentence per page. Each sentence is followed by an illustration that depicts the mentioned activity in a memorable format. The first part of every sentence in most of the story is repetitive with only the verb changing on successive pages. This repetition boosts word recognition abilities, an important ingredient in the early stages of learning to read. At this stage, children are learning phonics and developing the ability to read common sight words. Frequent parental or teacher read-alouds to toddlers also heightens this. Toni, the main character in the book, is easily recognizable in each illustration by his colorful superhero outfit, and radiant smile. Children in the target age group are very impressionable and love superheroes. They will easily identify with the activities Toni engages in because these activities are familiar to them. They will very likely want to emulate Toni.
I’m not a child. Neither was I reading the book aloud to one! Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed following Toni on his 20-page non-superhero action journey. I loved the vivid illustrations of his non-stop activities. There was no doubt that he was having fun throughout the story. I particularly found the illustration of him rescuing a cat while reading a book at the same time quite funny. I only wish the book had more of Toni’s superhero activities, to affirm to the children that he really is a superhero. But then again, maybe the lack thereof, of much superhero action provides an opportunity for the child or parent to create his/her own superhero stunts for Toni.
In addition to everything already discussed, I was impressed by the book’s logical flow of activities. I, therefore, believe that Toni the superhero deserves a 4 out of 4 stars rating. I recommend it to parents of children learning to read, and also to adults who, like me, enjoy reading children books! You may fall in the 39% children’s books purchasers who plan to buy a book but are not decided on which book to buy. You may be in the purely impulsive 40% category. You could even be amongst the 20% who have not only planned to buy a children's book but know exactly which book it's going to be! Whatever the case, I urge you to give this book a try! By the way, the mentioned survey can be found at Bowker or at https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by- ... -want.html
Toni the Superhero
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