3 out of 4 stars
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Santa Claus has lost his toys for all the good boys and girls of the world. Looice decides that he'll help Santa out by making a few presents. Along the way, he comes up with a few surprises. Find out if Santa ends up with enough presents for all the children of the world in Looice in the Stargarden.
The words of this book first appeared in a play written by the author and illustrator, Ben Goldstein. As such, you can find the song on Amazon and iTunes for sale. I previewed it, and it is catchy. It would be fun to have children listen to the song while looking at the words, especially because the vocabulary is challenging as I will discuss later. Therefore, it would be more convenient if the author sold the book and song together as one package.
The story follows the adventures of Looice from the third-person perspective. We are told before the book begins that the name is pronounced Lewis, for which I'm grateful as I wasn't sure. The author never specifies the age group of the target audience; however, I would guess it to be elementary-age children from the picture to word ratio.
Speaking of which, the illustrations appear to be hand-drawn. Though most of them are dark, taking place among the stars, they are colorful and engaging. My favorite was a picture of Looice giving jellybeans to astronauts. The one downside to the drawings was that the figures in them (e.g. Looice and Santa Claus) were small. Perhaps the author was trying to demonstrate the vastness of space.
Most of the pages in the book have words on one side with the drawings on the opposite side. In a few, the picture took up the entire two pages with words in a box within. The font consists of different colors, which further engages kids. All of this helps to keep the story from being boring, which is helpful when dealing with children with short attention spans.
While I must commend the author on an exceptionally well-edited book, the vocabulary is extremely troubling for the apparent age of the intended audience. Here I quote one of the more difficult passages in the story. "He took chromium, beryllium, onyx, aluminum, rubies, sapphires, garbage, spare tires, beams of light from satellites." The sentence is fun to say aloud, but Mr. Goldstein misses a teachable moment. He could have helped children understand better what these are and how to say them.
This brings up another great issue. There's not really any purpose for the book. There's no real lesson taught (at least nothing overt). Children aren't more educated after reading the story. However, this isn't necessarily negative. I'm of the opinion that kids should be able to read and enjoy a story simply for the sake of reading. This book is fun, and I believe many would like it.
As an amusing and entertaining story, I rate Looice in the Stargarden by Ben Goldstein 3 out of 4 stars. I've taken away a star because some of the words are too advanced for what appears to be the correct audience. I recommend the book for elementary age children looking for a unique story. I am interested to see what other adventures Looice goes on in future books.
Looice in the Stargarden
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