4 out of 4 stars
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The Barnyard Buddies Meets a Newcomer by Julie Penshorn is an excellent children’s book that tells an important tale of friendship, love, and companionship. It is wonderfully illustrated by Jeanine-Jonee Keith with superb and relevant pictures that capture the action and thoughts of the characters well. The moral of the story is stated in the line “kindness brings more kindness,” as the farm animals try to decide if the newcomer should be allowed to stay. The stranger in their lives is a hungry and tired dog that is eventually named Blue. The animals take pity on him because of his state and after some talk agree to help him out. The pig, Portland, decides to give him some of his slop food because the other animals mostly eat hay or grain, which is not great for a dog. The other animals consist of a horse, a goat, an owl, and a horse. A donkey and a female horse think that the dog could hurt them or bring disharmony to their group, so they do not want him to stay. It is decided to give the poor creature a chance and an opportunity to rest. After a heroic deed to save the chickens, Farmer Jim decides to let the pooch stay because Blue reminds him of a dog he once had that was a stray too.
The good aspects of this book are the clear and non-confusing illustrations and wording for young readers. Too often, authors tend to clutter pages with too many images or overdo the decorative features. The colors, shapes, and expressions on the animals are terrific for children to appreciate and use for a full understanding of the tale. Another unique quality of this book is that the dialogue boxes of the animals are of various colors. This helps kids distinguish between speakers and follow along with the story easily. Plenty of information is given in the back of the book for parents and teachers on how to best use the book for children. There are suggestions for conversation starters, definitions, and activities along with the creator information.
The only negative point that I see of the book is that the author brings up a good cause for the dog to be in search of a new place, but Penshorn does not elaborate on it anymore. I think it should have a stronger impact on the story. It is mentioned in the beginning that the family and the pup had left their home because the “water turned bad.” In all fairness, the activities and conversation starters in the back do address speaking to kids about this topic. It is just a shame that it did not have a larger part in the actual story than just that one line.
Although this book is best for young readers, it is quite entertaining and interesting for an older crowd too. As an adult, I would love reading it along with children or even to the infants that could not yet handle the reading themselves. There is also the option of hearing it read aloud in the menu selections. It is not too long to be boring and would make an outstanding bedtime story. The Barnyard Buddies Meets a Newcomer has a perfect length to present a problem and then in good time, has a bit of suspense and action and then a beautiful solution. The only people who would not like it are those that are too old to have an interest in reading children’s stories.
The editing is exceptional as no typos, mistakes, or grammar errors were found by this reviewer. The wording flows evenly and smoothly, so the reader is not distracted by the changing dialogue or speakers. For this reason and the positive message of friendship that the tale sends to children, it deserves a 4 out of 4 stars for the rating. Anything less would be a disservice to the fine work of the author and illustrator.
The Barnyard Buddies Meet a Newcomer
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