3 out of 4 stars
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Belle and the Great Rescue by Don Pope is a children’s picture book about Belle, a puppy who meets a new friend. While Belle was playing outside with her favorite toy one day, it rolled under a thorny bush. Belle couldn’t reach the ball through the thorns and wasn’t sure what to do until a fairy appeared to help her rescue her ball.
From reading this book, I can tell that the author put thought into the reading level of his audience. He uses techniques to teach new readers, such as repeating the phrase “big red ball” over and over. Then, big is used in a different context to reinforce this word by itself. I appreciated that the whole book was kept to a low reading level so that beginning readers can tackle it by themselves. The author included one more advanced word (princess). This, too, seemed like a conscious choice, as most children are familiar with the word princess even if they haven’t read it before.
I appreciated the effort put into the vocabulary chosen for this book, but I wish the author would have put more effort into the story. Once the fairy appears, nothing unexpected happens. It’s a very simplistic story with no twists or turns in the plot, and character development is minimal at best. I understand that many children’s books contain simple storylines, but I think the author could have included one or two more surprises in Belle’s adventures.
The illustrations also made me pause. Although the text describes the fairy standing on Belle’s nose, this isn’t actually depicted, and the fairy seems to grow throughout the book. When she first appears, she’s about the size of Belle’s head. Then, she is as tall as Belle, who is standing on four legs. Later, she is taller than Belle, who is standing up on two legs. I couldn’t find a reason for this inconsistency, and I think this would be confusing to a child reading the book.
Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The storyline made sense, the vocabulary used was very consistent, and I didn't find any errors in the text. However, I would have appreciated more surprises and more consistent depictions of the characters. I would recommend this book to parents of beginning readers (ages four to six) who enjoy simple stories about animals, fairies, and friends.
Belle and the Great Rescue
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