4 out of 4 stars
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O is for Oshun by Kya Johnson is a children’s alphabet book featuring characters from folklore stories. Celebrating the diverse cultures of our planet, the characters hail from all over the world. Children get to meet people like the Calabash kids from Tanzania, Hou Yi from China, and Quetzalcoatl from Mexico. The book also features animal characters, such as a beetle named Basilio from Brazil and the Nsasak Bird from Nigeria.
What makes this book truly stand out from most other children’s books on the marketplace is that it is an augmented reality book. After downloading an application, you can point your device at the characters to see them stand up and come to life, telling you where they are from and providing a teaser about their folktale. The accents of the characters are culturally appropriate, which makes them seem even more realistic.
The app also contains recordings of the full stories of the characters, so you can listen to the folktales in their entirety. Each one is set to regional music and is told in appropriate accents. While I loved the authenticity of the accents, my children, who were listening along with me, had trouble understanding a few of the stories because the pronunciation was unfamiliar to them.
There are so many wonderful things about this book. It is well constructed, and the illustrations for each character are full-page, vibrant, and beautiful. The AR feature is also very well done, with fluid movements and speech. The book is laid out with characters in A-Z order, with one character representing each letter. Each page contains one sentence that briefly explains who each character is. If I had to change something about the book, I would recommend including a bit more information in the printed book itself: perhaps listing the country of origin and a brief paragraph explaining the premise of the folktale. While the app is an amazing resource, it would be nice to also be able to read the book even when a device isn’t available.
Overall, I loved this book. I liked that the book highlighted cultures from all over the world. I know not all races and cultures are represented equally in the children’s book market, and it is nice that all children can find characters that are reflective of themselves in this book. The augmented reality component made the book extra special, and my kids are constantly asking to use the app. I didn’t notice any errors in the text. Overall, I rate O is for Oshun 4 out of 4 stars. Given that it has a tech-savvy component, the age range for this book runs much higher than that of a regular ABC book. I would say kids between the ages of 3 and 12, and even adults, will enjoy this book and the related folktales.
O is for Oshun
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