2 out of 4 stars
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Little Rue Makes Stew is the first in a series of children’s books inspired by author Dan Jilg’s three small boys. Little Rue, a young kangaroo, awaits his papa’s return from work and is excited to help his mother make stew for dinner. While Mom cuts up the ingredients, Rue adds them to the stew. Rue learns to wash his hands, peel potatoes and now knows the stove can be dangerous. When Papa gets home, Rue takes some much-deserved credit for helping with dinner.
I enjoyed the book’s illustrations. The drawings are loose, creative and consistent. The animal’s faces are very expressive and engaging. I think kids would find them fun. Beyond the illustrations, this book’s liabilities add up quickly.
The overall presentation is pleasing, but the technical problems start on the first page. My pdf version of the book has significant editing problems. The book begins with an unnamed section that appeared to be an author biography. It was a series of sentence fragments that seemed like notes rather than a finished product. There were six errors in this short paragraph. The total error count was high for a short children’s book.
The author’s stated intention is to instill in children that “anything is possible in this life.” I couldn’t derive that from this story. Rue didn’t overcome shyness or fear of the dark, or push the edge of possibility in any way. I do understand that helping his mom cook, following instructions, and learning to avoid the stove are important bonding and learning activities. Nothing that happened. however, rose to the level of the author’s aspiration.
Rue is making a stew with vegetables and “meat that’s good for you.” The book ends with Little Rue proudly telling his papa that he made some good “Rue Stew” for dinner. Well, on a very large continent on our globe, Roo Stew is a common dish made with…yes, kangaroo meat. Certainly, most kids in the Northern Hemisphere would not be aware of this, but parents might, and the author should have been. I couldn’t shake it while reading. It appears the book has been marketed internationally. I don’t imagine the irony would be overlooked in Australia.
For the engaging illustrations and admirable intention, I rate Little Rue Makes Stew 2 out of 4 stars. The high incidence of editing errors and the story that fell short cost the two stars. The unfortunate animal husbandry oversight was glaring to me but may not be noticed by everyone, so I did not penalize the author for it in the rating. I think pre-school-aged kids will enjoy the illustrations and will relate to helping mom, but they will not emerge having witnessed any important life lessons or grand possibilities.
Little rue makes stew
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