4 out of 4 stars
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Oh no! Ruth Helen has just discovered a hole in her big bag of letters! They seem to have gotten lost in some pictures and she really hopes that we will be able to help her find them. This is the basic premise of the children's book, Ruth Helen, which also happens to be written by Ruth Helen herself.
The author chose to make the format of this book into a kind of hidden picture game (as seen in many children magazines), but instead of pictures that the young child would try to find in the drawings, they are encouraged to seek out letters of the alphabet on each page. The author states that the genesis for this idea was originally just for her own child to help them with letter recognition. This ultimately led them to arrive at school at a more advanced level than their classmates in regards to knowing their alphabet.
The illustrations that the capital letters are hidden in are not professionally done, but are far from amateurish. It appears that the author either did them herself, or had a friend or family member draw them for her. This actually gives the entire book a more down home quality to me than slickly stylized drawings would have engendered; this just feels right with this book somehow.
I really enjoyed the way that the author used specific repetition on each page to give the child searching for the letters practice with only one of them at a time. Each page was dedicated to an individual letter of the alphabet in chronological order, which I also believe would help to accelerate the child's proficiency in the proper order of the letters beyond just the recognition of them. I also really liked that she gave a kind of answer key on the page to show exactly how each letter can be found in the picture. This was a great idea as it allowed some help for the child if they were struggling to find one of the letters. The book was very well thought out and executed. I really found nothing in this book that I could say that I did not like.
Overall, I give Ruth Helen a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. This is really quite the delightful little book that I believe will entertain young children while it educates and challenges them to improve their alphabet recognition. I see it as the perfect book for parents who are looking to give their children a head start on their early education, as well as for those children (and adults) who enjoy searching for hidden items in pictures. I think that parents who go through this book with their children will enjoy the time spent watching them get excited about discovery and learning, which definitely would make this book a grand success.
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