4 out of 4 stars
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Paige Turner's Acrobatic Amy is a picture book featuring twenty-six poems about different characters. It starts with Acrobatic Amy and goes on in alphabetical order until Zany Zoe, teaching children new words and important life lessons along the way. The book is aimed at students in the primary grades from Kindergarten to Grade 3.
The author is an experienced educator with a career that spanned thirty-two years as she taught a variety of subjects. Her knowledge and insights definitely show in this book, structured to help children learn the alphabet and vowel and consonant sounds. The combination of rhymes, humor, and alliteration makes for an engaging and fun experience and also provides further learning opportunities: students might be prompted to explore rhythm, patterns, and maybe even create poems themselves.
Teachers and parents have access to several proposed activities in the "Teaching Points" section at the end of the book. There are suggestions for every character and poem except for one (Quiet Quin); I don't know whether or not the omission was intentional. The activities range from developing linguistic skills to building positive character traits and moral foundations. They also include simple questions that get students to explore and share their interests.
Though this isn't necessarily a flaw, I have some reservations regarding the poem about Tattletale Tony. A clear distinction should be made between necessary reporting and idle tattling since many children need to learn the opposite lesson: reporting bullying behavior and problematic situations doesn't make one a "tattletale" and should, in fact, be encouraged. Obviously, it's possible to become overzealous, but the poem doesn't make that distinction. Since the book is designed for guided reading, educators can discuss the subject further and clarify it, but it would be nice if the "Teaching Points" section brought this up.
Acrobatic Amy is an excellent teaching resource that manages to educate and entertain. It's also exceptionally edited, as I found no errors, and the illustrations feature a simple but endearing art style. I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to anyone tutoring young children. As mentioned before, the book is designed for guided reading; children reading on their own might have trouble with words such as "vim" and "xylophone" and might be unable to get the most out of the book.
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