4 out of 4 stars
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Review : Toni the Superhero
Written by : R.D. Base
Illustrated by : Debbie Hefke
Year : 2018
Page Count : 30 Including Covers
Toni the Superhero is a children's book aimed at ages 0-4 and written by the author in the same style that she used to teach her own three boys to read. The Story features Toni, a young African American boy who is also a superhero complete with costume. During the course of the story, we learn about Toni and what he likes by the repeated use of two basic sentence structures “Toni is ____ “ and “Toni likes _______” followed by additional introductory-level vocabulary that is relevant to the beginning readers age and development. The things and activities Toni likes are wonderfully and accurately depicted by the illustrator’s use of bright and colorful illustrations that serve to catch the eyes of younger children.
Both the repetition and linking words with visuals as done in the book are an effective way to develop literacy in a young child, even those as young as the author’s target audience. As a language teacher, I would recommend starting out by reading Toni to your child while pointing out features in the illustrations and then gradually, at whatever pace your child needs, building up to getting them to fill in words, trying whole sentences, and eventually reading the whole story to you. Used in this fashion Toni the Superhero can be an excellent literary resource and a fun addition to your child’s personal library.
While I’m sure the text on the back of the book is more meant to be read by the adult who might purchase it, I might suggest keeping the same level of introductory language as appears in the rest of the book. Kids like to look and read the back covers too and words such as “extraordinary” are a bit too complex for this age level.
I felt it positive to have the main character in a children’s superhero book be an African American boy as there is not enough media or literature that lets young African american children see themselves in this role. The other children depicted in the background doing activities with Toni are a diverse group and have a good gender balance. I do feel, as a father of three daughters aged 1-9 who all love superheros, that the target audience of Toni the Superhero is very much a male one. As the author plans to release several books in staring Toni, and I hope she does, it would be nice if he had a super sister or female super friend somewhere down the road.
While I might have been inclined to look for a book starring a girl superhero first, it certainly did not matter to my one year old daughter, who very much enjoyed looking at Toni and the illustrations as I read to her about Toni’s likes and activities. Overall, both of us would recommend picking up “Toni the Superhero” as a good introductory read and literacy resource.
Rating: 4 out of 4. Well written for its target audience and purpose. Lovely illustrations. Excellent literacy resource.
Toni the Superhero
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