3 out of 4 stars
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The first time I truly felt old was when I had to explain to a kid that we didn't have internet or a bunch of televisions when we were kids. If we wanted to play video games, we had to share it with the family and find a time when something good wasn't on! Since then, there have been countless other similar examples that have replaced the infamous "I walked through the snow uphill both ways to school" stories of my own youth. Early Sunshine by Charissa Young feels like the children's book version of proof that life has really changed in the last 20+ years.
Early Sunshine is a book for kids that talks about Charissa's youth. This includes both her parents having jobs, walking to school, watching classic cartoons and doing chores. All of this is done with some really high-quality art from Mike Motz, illustrations that could very easily be screenshots from a cartoon themselves. The colorful, sharp images of Charissa, her family and friends always smiling, even while she does chores and walks to school in rain or snow works as a "see? You can do the things you have to do and still have a great time!" lesson.
In addition to the crisp art, the book in general is really relatable to any family. It's functions as the ultimate back-up to adults telling their kids they walked to school, they had to do chores and they had working parents while also showing the better sides as well, with friends having fun and grabbing ice cream and having dinner as a family.
The book is rather short - only 25 screens total including the title on my Kindle - making it a quick read before bedtime or reference that no, your child wasn't the first one to have to suffer doing the dishes. It also uses mostly easy words, with only a few tricky ones thrown in, so kids could learn to read it themselves.
Overall, this is a lovely children's book. The art is fantastic and the life lessons are handy. It's also incredibly short, however. While this is definitely a great selection for a few very specific uses, it just felt like it was missing a little something. I would have loved to have seen her doing homework, being attentive and respectful in class and maybe a few other scenes. I'd give the book a 2.5 if I could, but because it fills an interesting niche topic and the art is so sharp I'm giving it 3 out of 4 stars.
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